Wrongful Death Claims: What Are California Wrongful Death Laws?

Wrongful Death Claims: What Are California Wrongful Death Laws?

Wrongful death is when a person dies due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person or entity. When this is the case, you can seek compensatory damages on behalf of the deceased as a family member or legal heir. However, you must meet various legal requirements and other obligations in order to file the claim. Here is a look at California laws that apply to any wrongful death claims filed in Irvine.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

California laws clearly define the various individuals who can seek wrongful death compensation on behalf of the deceased. As per these laws, a compensation claim can be filed by:
  • A surviving spouse of the deceased person
  • A domestic partner of the deceased person
  • Any surviving children of the deceased person
  • Any person entitled through intestate succession in the absence of direct children. These may include parents, legal guardians if the parents are deceased, and the siblings of the deceased
  • Stepchildren of the deceased
  • A putative spouse, if it can be shown that the individual was financially dependent on the deceased person
  • Any children of the putative spouse, again if it can be proven that they financially depended on the deceased person
The law further allows other individuals to file for compensation in the absence of the parties listed above. With so many people entitled to file a wrongful claim, it can be hard to determine who has precedence in filing such a claim. This is where you will need to consult a qualified Irvine wrongful death attorney.

Damages You Can Seek in Wrongful Death Claims

You can apply for different types of damages in a wrongful death claim. These include:
  • Funeral and burial costs. The law allows you to recover reasonable funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death claim. The actual amount awarded for these damages will depend on the financial condition of the deceased person’s estate and the deceased person’s station in life.
  • Medical costs. Any medical costs incurred before the death of the deceased. This usually applies in cases where death is not sudden and the deceased passes away after remaining under treatment for a period.
  • Lost Wages. These are the wages that the deceased would have reasonably earned had he or she continued to live to the average expected age.
  • Loss of Companionship or Affection. The close relatives of the deceased can claim damages in lieu of loss of companionship (in the case of spouse or partner) or affection for the emotional loss suffered because of wrongful death.
  • Loss of Financial Support. Damages of this type can be claimed by any financial dependents of the deceased.

Statute of Limitations

California has a statute of limitations of two years for wrongful death claims. This means that if you lost a loved one in Irvine due to the negligence of another party, you can sue for compensatory damages within two years. The period of two years is measured from the date the accident took place. It is critically important to abide by the statute of limitations when filing wrongful death claims. If you seek compensation through a claim filed after the statute has expired, it is certain that your wrongful death claims will meet failure. This is because the negligent party’s first defense would be that the statute has expired upon which the court is sure to dismiss the claim. However, there are some notable exceptions to the statute. If the family of the deceased could not discover about the death of the victim, the statute is paused. The two-year period then runs from the date when the family members discovered or should have discovered about the death of the wrongful death victim. This is known as the Discovery Rule. The statute is also briefer for wrongful death claims involving a government entity. If you have a loved one who died after being hit by a USPS vehicle for instance, you will have only six months to notify the entity about your intent to file a claim.

Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney in Irvine, California

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, we can help you. Here at Crockett Law Group, we work with survivors of a wrongful death victim to figure out the fair amount of compensation they deserve. We also speed up the process of filing the claim so that your claim is on track to likely success in no time. Reach us today to discuss your wrongful death claim with our attorneys.
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