From car crashes to slip and falls, devastating and preventable accidents occur frequently throughout the state of California. When an accident that is caused by another person’s negligence leads to the death of the victim, though, the event is particularly tragic. A San7 Diego wrongful death attorney can help you and your family to take action after a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Understanding Wrongful Death Suits in California
A claim for wrongful death may be filed in the event that the wrongful act or neglect of an individual led to the injury, resulting in death, of another person. This type of civil action allows the family members of the deceased to recover financial losses, but is not a criminal suit – i.e., a verdict of “guilty” in a wrongful death action in civil court will not result in the defendant facing any criminal penalties, such as going to jail.
Examples of incidents in which a wrongful death action may be warranted include the following:
- A drunk driver causes a fatal accident;
- A property owner fails to repair a hazardous condition on his or her property, leading to a fatality;
- A prescription medication leads to a patient’s death; or
- A fatal act of medical malpractice occurs.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60-377.62, the following people related to the decedent may file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Domestic partner;
- Children; and
- The personal representative of decedent.
Additionally, if stepchildren, parents, children of the deceased’s spouse, or other minors were dependent upon the decedent at time of death, then they too may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death action.
Types of Damages Recoverable
The court may award the plaintiffs any damages that they deem to be just, including damages for funeral expenses, burial expenses, lost income, loss of household services, loss of companionship and guidance, loss of love, and pain and suffering. However, California Code of Civil Procedure stipulates that the only damages that a plaintiff is barred from recovering during a wrongful death action are those damages named in Section 377.34 of California Code, otherwise known as punitive or exemplary damages.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing?
Yes – there is a time limit in which you must file your wrongful death action against the at-fault party. Because the action must assert the negligence of the at-fault party, it is important that you begin gathering evidence, and consult with an attorney, as soon as possible. The time limit for filing your civil action for wrongful death is two years in California.
Let a San Diego Wrongful Death Attorney Help You Now
There are few things more emotional and shattering than losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. If this has happened to you, a passionate San Diego wrongful death attorney can advocate on your behalf. At Berman & Riedel, LLP, our skilled wrongful death attorneys understand what you are going through and want to help. For a free case consultation to discuss the specifics of your claim and review your options for recovering damages, call our offices today at 858-350-8855.