Anaheim Wrongful Death Attorney
California personal injury laws provide injury victims with the right to pursue compensation from the person or entity responsible for causing their injuries. When personal injuries are fatal, surviving family members usually want to seek justice for their deceased loved ones. California law also provides legal remedies for a decedent’s estate and surviving family members to pursue compensation from all parties responsible for their loved one’s death.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s misconduct, contact a wrongful death attorney at Christopher Lee Law Firm, to schedule a free consultation. Our compassionate attorneys understand that fatal injury claims are often emotionally devastating for surviving family members. We will go over the facts and circumstances of your case and discuss your legal options.
Wrongful Death Representation
- Our attorneys provide legal assistance to injury victims and their families because we believe in helping our clients get the justice and compensation that they deserve. We know that no amount of compensation can replace your loved one, but it can help you and your family get back on your feet after the significant losses that you have suffered.
- We understand that after the unexpected death of a loved one, you and your family are facing uncertain times, and you may have more questions than answers. Our attorneys are patient and compassionate, and they take the time to listen and respond to all of our clients’ questions and concerns.
- Our law firm sets itself apart from other personal injury firms by taking a collaborative approach to representing our clients. You will not just have one person handling your case; you will have a team of legal representatives advocating for your right to maximum compensation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In California, wrongful death laws are complicated, and proving these claims can be challenging without experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. In general, a wrongful death occurs when someone’s wrongful act or neglect causes another person to suffer fatal injuries. Valuing a wrongful death claim is a complex process that often requires expert evaluation and calculations.
Wrongful death claims may be brought to compensate surviving family members for the losses that they experienced due to their loved one’s death. These claims are not intended to recover compensation for the decedent’s injuries and damages, however. As explained in more detail below, the decedent’s losses may be recoverable for the estate under a separate claim called a survival action.
To prove a wrongful death claim, surviving family members must set forth evidence that demonstrates the following:
- The defendant’s conduct was negligent, reckless, or otherwise wrongful.
- The defendant’s wrongful conduct caused your loved one’s injuries and death.
- Surviving family members suffered losses as a result of their loved one’s death.
Only certain surviving family members are entitled to compensation under California law. Depending on the circumstances of each case, those entitled to recover compensation under a wrongful death claim may include the decedent’s spouse, domestic partner, children, stepchildren, parents, and other surviving family members.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Anaheim
Wrongful death claims arise in a number of ways in Anaheim and throughout the state of California. At Christopher Lee Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping family members who have lost loved ones due to the following:
- Car accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Mass transit injuries, including bus, subway, train, and trolley accidents
- Dangerous and defective product injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog attack and bite claims
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Assault and battery injuries
- Catastrophic injury accidents, including spinal and brain injuries
Please understand that this is not an exhaustive list of the ways that wrongful death claims arise in California. If you have any questions about your particular claim, we strongly encourage you to contact one of our Anaheim wrongful death lawyers for help as soon as possible. We want to examine your case by offering a free consultation so we can help determine the best steps forward for your situation.
Wrongful Death Compensation
Compensation for a wrongful death claim is meant to compensate surviving family members for the losses they experienced due to their loved one’s death, such as:
- The financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family.
- Gifts or benefits the survivors would have expected to receive from the decedent.
- The value of the decedent’s household services.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- The loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, affection, and moral support.
- The loss of enjoyment of sexual relations.
- The loss of the decedent’s training and guidance.
Survival actions are separate and distinct from wrongful death claims. Survival actions are appropriate in fatal injury cases where the decedent survived for long enough after his or her injuries to suffer losses before he or she died. In general, a survival action for the decedent’s losses may be initiated by the decedent’s personal representative or successor in interest.
California law does not permit financial recovery for the decedent’s pain and suffering. Compensation for a survival action generally includes any monetary losses suffered by the decedent. For example, the estate may recover the decedent’s lost wages if his or her injuries resulted in lost wages. Medical expenses such as ambulance fees, hospital bills, and therapy costs may also be recovered. Additionally, compensation for penalties and punitive damages are sometimes awarded in survival action cases.
How We Can Help
We know that no amount of compensation will make up for losing your loved one. However, in addition to providing some financial security to you and your family, succeeding in a wrongful death claim will help hold the responsible party accountable and possibly deter similar conduct and events from occurring in the future. Our attorneys know that these claims are emotional and complicated, and we can help.
We understand that you need time to grieve and take care of personal matters after your loss. Our attorneys will take on all of the legal responsibilities and ensure that your claim is timely filed and preserved. We will thoroughly investigate your case, gather and prepare evidence to prove your claim, and participate in settlement negotiations on your behalf.
Insurance companies for defendants are often responsible for paying wrongful death claims. Our attorneys are not afraid of going to court, and we will not accept any unreasonable settlement offers. Unlike other personal injury attorneys, our goal is not to settle your case. Our goal is to maximize your compensation, and sometimes that means going to court to secure the compensation that you deserve.
What if There was Partial Fault?
One of the most common defenses used in wrongful death claims is that the deceased actually caused their own injury in some way. Yes, it is not uncommon for there to be shared liability in personal injury or wrongful death claims, but this does not mean that surviving family members cannot recover compensation.
For injury and wrongful death cases, California operates under what is called a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that family members will still be able to recover compensation even if their loved one contributed to the injuries that caused their death in some way. In fact, family members may be entitled to compensation even if their loved one was up to 99% responsible for the injuries that caused the death.
However, the total amount of compensation available in these cases will be reduced based on the percentage of fault the deceased had been causing the incident. For example, if it is determined that the family has sustained $1 million in losses as a result of the wrongful death, but that the deceased was 20% responsible for the injuries that caused their death, then the family would receive $800,000 instead of the full $1 million.
What if There is a Criminal Investigation or Case?
It is not uncommon for there to be criminal investigations involved in these incidents. However, we need to point out that wrongful death claims occur in civil court, whereas criminal investigations take place in criminal court.
If it is discovered that a law was broken by the party that allegedly caused the wrongful death, a criminal investigation will likely be opened. This could result in prosecutors filing charges against the alleged negligent party. In these cases, prosecutors will pursue the individual through the criminal court process in the hopes of obtaining some sort of punishment through a plea bargain or a jury trial conviction.
Civil wrongful death claims can be filed even if there is an ongoing criminal investigation. Sometimes, the wrongful death claim will be paused until the outcome of the criminal investigation. Even if an individual is found not guilty in criminal court, this does not necessarily mean that they will not be held liable for the death in civil court.
Additionally, there does not have to be a criminal case against an alleged negligent party in order for family members and survivors to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. Even if law enforcement officials or prosecutors do not bring charges against a person for causing the death, family members can still file a civil wrongful death claim.
Steps to Take if You Suspect You Have a Wrongful Death Claim
If you have lost a loved one and you suspect that their death was caused by the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of someone else, there are various steps that you can take to help ensure that your case is handled appropriately.
- Contact an Anaheim wrongful death lawyer. The moment you think that you may have a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one, you need to contact a wrongful death attorney in Anaheim. A lawyer can get involved very quickly and handle every aspect of the claim on your behalf. You need to focus on spending time with your family and grieving the loss of your loved one, not worrying about how to hold others accountable for the loss of life.
- Obtain the death certificate. The next of kin or personal representative of the deceased will typically be able to get the death certificate from the appropriate health department.
- Appoint a personal representative or estate administrator. The personal representative or administrator of the deceased’s estate will be the point person:
- If there was a will or estate plan, the personal representative will be specifically named in the deceased’s will.
- If there is not a will, the personal representative will typically be the spouse. If there is no living spouse, the heirs will often choose a personal representative. If there are no heirs to the estate, a judge will appoint a personal representative.
- Gather as much evidence as possible. Family members and the personal representative of the deceased’s estate should gather as much evidence as possible. However, wrongful death claims can be complicated, and a skilled lawyer will likely have to work with the court system to obtain the evidence needed to prove liability.
- Identify all survivors. In general, the survivors of the deceased’s state will be the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased. This can also be other relatives who were financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death.
- Always keep time limits in mind. It is crucial for any person involved in these cases to keep timelines and mind. The time limit for filing a wrongful death claim in Anaheim and throughout California is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. Failing to file a lawsuit within this time frame will result in the family being unable to recover compensation.
- Keep copies of all bills and damages. It is crucial to keep track of copies of any bills that come in that arise due to the loss of life. This includes funeral bills, medical bills, lost earnings, and other proof of loss of support and services in the household.
Time Frame to File an Anaheim Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When we examine the Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 in California, we can see that the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. This two-year “clock” begins ticking from the date of the person’s death, not the date of the injury that caused the death.
Often, the date of the injury and the date of death are the same dates. However, that is not always the case. Suppose a person sustains a car accident injury that leaves them in a coma for two months before they pass away. The wrongful death claim in this situation would need to be filed from the date of death, not from the date the accident occurred.
There are various exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. One of these exceptions revolves around something called the “discovery rule.” The discovery rule says that the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California will not begin until the surviving family members discovered that the victim has died. This could significantly extend the time frame that family members have to file these lawsuits.
We also want to point out that the statute of limitations for deaths that occur due to medical malpractice is three years from the day the injury that caused death occurred. Medical malpractice claims arise when a doctor, hospital, or other medical professional causes an injury to a patient because of their negligence or failure to act.
Finally, wrongful death claims against a government entity or government employee must be filed within six months from the date of death. Some common examples of wrongful death claims against governments can include accidents that occur at public schools, car accidents with government-owned vehicles, or medical malpractice claims against a publicly run healthcare facility.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you believe you may have a legal claim for the loss of your family member, contact a wrongful death attorney at Christopher Lee Law Firm, to schedule a no-cost and no-obligation consultation. We know that you are going through a difficult period, and you may be facing financial challenges after your loved one’s death. We take our cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay any legal fees until we have helped you secure compensation for your losses. Contact our Anaheim personal injury attorneys today.