When something or someone cuts a life short, it can leave surviving family members feeling devastated, confused, and at a loss as to what to do. Legal matters may be difficult to think about after a tragedy, but consider pursuing a wrongful death claim for the good of your family’s future. A claim can bring justice to the responsible party, give you family closure, and provide financial compensation for your losses. The Law Office of Arash Khorsandi sympathizes deeply with those who have lost family members or spouses because of negligence. We want to help you get the most out of your wrongful death claim in Los Angeles.
What Is Wrongful Death?
The first thing you need to know about filing for wrongful death is how the court defines this term. California Law Section 377.60 states that wrongful death is “the death of a person from the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Think about a wrongful death claim like a personal injury claim, except that the negligent act caused a death. Both types of claims center on the same legal theory of negligence. In a wrongful death claim, one must prove three elements:
- The defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care. The defendant could be a distracted driver, incompetent doctor, negligent caregiver, product manufacturer, property owner, or any other party that contributed to the death. The duty of care will vary based on the defendant’s role in the incident.
- The defendant breached his/her duty of care. A breach is anything that another reasonably prudent party would not have done in the same or similar circumstances. The courts may deem a party “negligent” if it can ascertain that the person or entity should have done something differently to prevent the decedent’s death.
- The breach of duty of care caused the person’s death. Just because a loved one passed away does not make a party automatically responsible. You must prove that the defendant’ breach of care was the proximate cause of your loved one’s death. Proving this element may involve eyewitness statements, expert testimony and a full-scale investigation.
You must also show that you suffered real damages because of the incident. In a wrongful death claim this is typically easy to prove. You may have suffered emotional damages, mental anguish, or loss of consortium. The courts may award compensation for all of these intangible losses, as well as for tangible damages like funeral and burial expenses or the decedent’s accident-related medical care up until the time of death. A wrongful death claim can provide an important source of financial relief for loved ones the decedent left behind.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in California is generally two years from the date of the loved one’s death. However, there are certain scenarios where this time frame may be different.
- If the wrongful death occur as part of medical error or medical malpractice, then the statute of limitations is extended to three years.
- If a government entity, such as a Los Angeles city vehicle, caused the wrongful death, then the claim must be filed within six months of the injury.
Although the above time periods are deadlines, the sooner you file, however, the sooner you can recover.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim in California. Only the deceased person’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children may file the claim. If these people do not exist, anyone “entitled to the property of the decedent” may file the claim. This could include the person’s parents or siblings. If the decedent’s parents, stepchildren, or putative spouse can prove that they financially depended on the person, the courts may allow these parties to file the claim.
Contact Our Los Angeles Office
If you have a nagging suspicion that someone is to blame for the death of your spouse or family member, contact The Law Office of Arash Khorsandi. We have the resources you need to pursue justice for wrongful death as well as the experience to ensure that you get fair compensation.