Wrongful Death Attorneys in Los Angeles
Coping with the death of a loved one is always difficult, no matter the cause, but if the death was preventable, grief may be complicated by shock or anger. Though no monetary compensation can ever come close to making up for your loss, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may help you find a sense of purpose as you navigate through the grief, as you seek justice.
A wrongful death lawsuit may also provide important resources to help mitigate the financial hardship of your loss. An experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and fight for your right to obtain the compensation you deserve from those all or partially responsible for the death of your loved one.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death?
When a death occurs as a result of the negligent or intentional action or inaction of another person or party, the tort of wrongful death may apply. Wrongful death is a civil claim seeking monetary compensation for the injury and damages associated with the death. Criminal charges may also be pursued simultaneously, where a prosecuting attorney can seek justice in the form of incarceration, fees, and other punishments through the criminal justice system.
Four elements must be satisfied to prove a wrongful death claim. Your wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles will listen to the facts of your case and help determine whether or not all of these elements are satisfied.
- An individual or an entity acted wrongfully or negligently
- Death occurred,
- The wrongful act caused the victim’s death, and
- The victim’s family suffered substantial, compensable loss because of the death.
Proving all these elements may require an independent investigation into your claim, which is generally conducted by the Los Angeles wrongful death law firm you choose to represent you. Choosing a team of legal professionals well-versed in this area of law is important so you can ensure you and your family are receiving good legal representation and have the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
All states have their own set of rules governing who can file a wrongful death action. California law allows the following family members (or their personal representatives) to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death in state civil court:
- A surviving spouse,
- A domestic partner,
- Biological and adopted children,
- Grandchildren (if the deceased person’s children are also deceased),
- Other minor children (such as stepchildren) who were at least 50% dependent on the deceased for their financial support, and
- Any party who would be entitled to property of the decedent by intestate succession.
This last group may include the deceased person’s parents or siblings, depending on who is living at the time of death, and varies in each circumstance. In some cases, additional dependents may have the right to receive wrongful death damages as part of the action. These may include:
- A “putative spouse” (someone who, in good faith, believed that they were in a lawful marriage with the deceased but were not);
- Children of the deceased’s putative spouse;
- Parents of the deceased; and
- Legal guardians of the decedent.
These individuals must prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased. If you are unsure whether you qualify as someone who is permitted to file a wrongful death claim, your wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles can help you make that call.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to California law, you generally have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limit placed on legal actions is called the statute of limitations and prevents the risk of a case surfacing long after the action has occurred and all parties have moved on or evidence is lost or destroyed.
After you and your Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer have determined that you have an eligible cause of action, moving forward with your case as soon as reasonably possible is important. Over time, evidence can become more difficult to obtain and witnesses harder to track down. Give yourself the best chance at success by taking necessary steps to file a claim for wrongful death well before the statute of limitations expires.
Wrongful Death Compensation in California
The exact amounts and type of compensation (also called damages) owed are dependent upon the unique circumstances of your case. The two categories of wrongful death damages are economic and noneconomic damages. Financial compensation for expenses that can be reasonably quantified are economic damages. These are related to actual monetary costs that occur because of the deceased’s death and may include the financial support the deceased provided to the family, the reasonable value of household services provided by the deceased, any gifts or benefits expected, and burial and funeral costs.
Unreimbursed medical costs incurred prior to death are filed under a different claim called a “survival action,” which is brought by the deceased’s estate. Survival actions also address lawsuits that the deceased had the right to file prior to death.
Noneconomic damages pertain to the mental and emotional aspects of loss. The things that may be taken into consideration when determining noneconomic damages include loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, and other aspects of life that are impacted by the absence of the deceased. Because they are subjective, proving noneconomic wrongful death damages can be difficult without the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorney.
Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer
The experienced team at Boucher LLP understands the gravity of coping with the preventable loss of a loved one and how much pressure you are under to try and heal while maintaining some semblance of normalcy.
We are here to help take some of the weight off your shoulders by evaluating the facts of the death to determine whether a wrongful death claim exists, and by providing zealous legal representation and a commitment to pursuing justice for you and your loved one if a decision is made to move forward with a lawsuit.
We have successfully tried or otherwise resolved wrongful death cases for our clients. We understand the nuances of the California legal system and will not settle for less than what you deserve. Contact us to schedule a case consultation.