Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer
Legally Reviewed By: Jud Waltman
After losing a loved one, you and your family deserve time to grieve and heal in peace. Not only are you dealing with emotional trauma, but you may be facing financial difficulties as well, wondering how you’re going to get by without your loved one’s support. If the decedent’s death resulted from another party’s careless, negligent, or reckless actions, that party should be held accountable. Your family deserves justice.
An instance of wrongful death, such as a car accident or workplace accident, is one that occurred through misconduct or negligence of another party. A Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can help you bring that party to justice.
When you choose The Lanier Law Firm as your advocate in your wrongful death lawsuit, you’ll receive compassionate, professional representation in a court of law. We’ll identify the party or parties responsible for your loved one’s accident and file a claim on your behalf.
Our attorneys can help you receive maximum compensation to cover burial expenses, loss of income from the deceased, and damages for the pain and emotional distress your family suffers after losing your loved one.
Wrongful death cases can also ensure that parties who engage in reckless behavior don’t do so in the future. We’ll pursue punitive damages to financially punish those parties and seek precedent-setting verdicts against negligent organizations.
What is a wrongful death claim?
In California legal terms, wrongful death is “the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Therefore, a wrongful death case is a civil case brought against a person or party who was responsible for the death of another person.
Wrongful death isn’t a criminal case, although the defendant of a wrongful death case may also face criminal charges. Wrongful death cases are intended to help the surviving family members receive financial compensation for their loved one’s loss.
Wrongful deaths can be caused by a defective product or medication, a fatal accident in the workplace or while driving, or medical misdiagnosis and malpractice. If another party, whether it’s a person, corporation, workplace, or hospital, created dangerous conditions that led to the death of your loved one, then they deserve to be held responsible.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Common causes of fatal injury include:
- Cycling or pedestrian accidents
- Vehicle accidents or trucking accidents
- Unsafe workplaces or premises
- Medical misdiagnosis or malpractice
- Malfunctioning or defective products
- Accidental poisonings or overdoses
There may be other causes of wrongful deaths not listed here. If you don’t see the cause of your loved one’s death, you may still have a personal injury case. Call the Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm to discuss your situation.
How can a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer help my case?
If your loved one was injured or died in an accident caused by someone else, that party’s insurance company might offer a settlement to avoid a lawsuit. You need your own legal representation to negotiate on your behalf and ensure that your interests are protected and your financial losses are covered. Dealing with insurance companies during this difficult time may be hard to handle alone.
At The Lanier Law Firm, we’re experienced in negotiating wrongful death cases, and we enthusiastically fight for our clients. We make sure that we pursue the full value of your claim and that the other party is held responsible for the death of your loved one.
No amount of money can make up for the loss of someone close to you. However, it can make things easier for you and your family. If a corporation or other entity lacked proper oversight in product development, failed to take adequate safety measures, or was otherwise negligent in developing their product or service, then filing punitive damages in a wrongful death suit may keep them from hurting another family with their mistakes.
You May Receive Compensation if Your Loved One Dies as a Result of an Accident
In many wrongful death cases, the other party may claim that your loved one caused the accident or that they were otherwise careless. Determining the facts surrounding the case is essential to assigning responsibility for your loved one’s death. We use our own independent investigation results to find the facts and defend your legal rights.
California wrongful death laws can change, so we keep abreast of any changes to the statutes and how they may affect our clients. We make sure that all court documents are filed correctly and on time. Wrongful death cases can be complicated, so you need the legal advice and moral support of an experienced wrongful death attorney.
California Wrongful Death Laws
The California Code of Civil Procedure sets forth the circumstances that must be met in order to establish a wrongful death occurred:
- A human being died.
- Another’s negligence or intent to harm caused the death.
- Surviving family members suffered economic loss as a result of the harm.
- The deceased person’s estate has had a personal representative appointed.
Wrongful death cases in civil court have a lower threshold for proving responsibility than proving guilt in a criminal court. In civil cases, the defendant is responsible if there is a preponderance of the evidence. In criminal court, the standard for conviction is that a defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Who can file a wrongful death suit in California?
Only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file the suit, but this representative can file on behalf of only:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving children or stepchildren
- Surviving parents
If your loved one suffered a wrongful death, their estate representative will file the case on your behalf. In addition to the wrongful death claim, California law allows family members of the deceased to file a separate survival action. The damages in a survival action include “loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement.”
Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Suit
In California, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death suit is two years from the date of the person’s death, not the date of the incident.
California Comparative Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
California is a pure comparative negligence state for personal injury and wrongful death cases. This means that the plaintiff may receive damages even if they were up to 99% responsible for the accident. Even if your loved one shared some responsibility for the accident that led to their death, you might still receive some damages from the other party as a surviving family member.
A judge or jury will assign fault to all parties involved in the accident. The plaintiff in a wrongful death case can receive damages commensurate with the percentage of their loved one’s fault, as determined by the court.
For example, if the deceased was not wearing a hard hat when they were involved in a fatal construction site accident, the court may determine that they were 30% responsible for the wrongful death. The construction company or other negligent party would be responsible for 70% of the accident.
If the total damages equalled $100,000, you would receive 70% of the damages under the comparative negligence law, or $70,000. Your Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can help you ensure that the party responsible for the accident compensates you for their share of negligence.
What kind of compensation am I eligible for in a wrongful death case?
You can ask for three kinds of damages in a wrongful death case: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages can include your loved one’s medical bills and funeral expenses, as well as the loss of wages, potential earnings, and pension or retirement money that would have provided financial support to the family.
Non-economic damages include emotional trauma and mental anguish (“pain and suffering”). They also include loss of companionship or loss of a partner.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party to ensure that accidents like the one that took your loved one don’t happen again. They’re common in medical malpractice and defective product cases.
Will I have to go to court to bring a wrongful death action?
If your wrongful death lawyer cannot come to an agreement with the other party’s insurance company, then yes, you will be expected to go to court. The Lanier Law Firm has the courtroom experience to ensure that you’re well represented
What if my loved one didn’t have a job? Can I still sue for wrongful death?
Yes! Even if your loved one wasn’t the primary breadwinner, or if they were a child or elderly family member, they still contributed to your family in some way. Perhaps they were a stay-at-home-parent responsible for household chores and caring for the children. The compassionate wrongful death lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm know that while each family is unique, every person in your family has value. We’ll ensure that we represent them and the special place they held in your life.
Speak to a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
If you’ve lost a parent, child, or spouse in an accident caused by the actions of another party, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit against them. Proving negligence in wrongful death can be complicated, so seek representation from an experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer. Call The Lanier Law Firm’s southern California office today for a free consultation.