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What You Families Need to Know About Wrongful Death Claims

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one due to an accident, understanding your family’s legal rights is essential. But, it can also be challenging. California’s wrongful death laws are not easy to understand. They give different rights to different family members, and they place various restrictions on how and when eligible family members can file their claims for damages. Our wrongful death lawyers answer your most commonly asked questions, and are here to help you and your family. 

Wrongful death paperwork on desk

Q&A with Our  Wrongful Death Lawyers

When can family members file a wrongful death claim in California?

Under California law, a death is considered “wrongful” if it results from negligence, intentional misconduct or a product defect. While many wrongful death claims involve auto accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, cases can also involve falls, defective products, fires, assaults, neglect and various other issues.

Can I file a wrongful death claim if my loved one was a victim of criminal violence?

Yes. Criminal violence is a form of intentional misconduct that can justify a claim for financial compensation. While one option is to file a lawsuit against the criminal, it may also be possible to file a lawsuit against a business that has sufficient insurance coverage to compensate your family. This could be the case, for example, if someone assaulted your loved one at a business that lacked adequate security.

What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit to recover your direct losses as a grieving family member. A survival action is a lawsuit to recover your loved one’s losses prior to death. In many cases, eligible family members will be able to recover compensation through both types of claims.

What is California’s “one action” rule?

California’s “one action” rule says that all eligible family members must participate in the same wrongful death lawsuit. At Banafshe Law Firm, PC, we can make sure your family’s lawsuit covers all eligible claims.

How long does my family have to file a wrongful death claim?

In most cases, California has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, which runs from the date of death. However, the limitations period can be longer or shorter in some cases. To protect your family’s legal rights, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

What is the process for filing a wrongful death claim or a survival action?

To file a wrongful death claim or a survival action, your first step is simply to meet with an attorney. At Banafshe Law Firm, PC, we are available 24/7, and we are happy to arrange for you to speak with one of our attorneys in person or over the phone at your convenience.

4 Signs You Need to Meet with a Wrongful Death Attorney in California

If someone you love was accidentally killed or killed intentionally, you can bring a wrongful death claim against the party who caused the death. Such claims are brought by the estate of the deceased and can benefit surviving family members and others who have been impacted by the loss.

Here are four signs you need to meet with a wrongful death attorney if you have experienced such a loss:

  1. Your loved one was killed and someone else is to blame. There is a difference between civil and criminal action in the case of wrongful death. If your loved one died as the result of an accident -- either a car accident or at work -- a civil suit should be brought in order to determine liability and collect damages and are decided based upon compensation. If your loved one was killed as the result of a deliberate act (murder), criminal charges will likely be brought against the person suspected of committing the crime. You could be called in to testify during the trial, but you have little input into the outcome of the court case. Criminal cases are determined on the preponderance of evidence and penalties include fines, community service and incarceration.
  2. You are a surviving spouse or other family member. Such claims are usually filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased. A wrongful death attorney can file the claim on behalf of the survivors of the deceased. Spouses may bring such claims, as well as the parents of a minor child who has been killed. Minors can also collect damages if their parents have been killed.
  3. You're getting a runaround from an insurance company.  A wrongful death attorney can help you prove the defendant was negligent and responsible for your loved one's death. The defendant must be shown to have owed the victim a duty of care, that this duty of care was breached and directly responsible for causing the death. An attorney can help you settle or take the case to court, if necessary. 
  4. You need financial help. No amount of money can replace your loved one, but a wrongful death attorney can help you get the maximum amount of compensation you are eligible for by being a strong advocate on your behalf throughout the entire judicial process. These damages can include compensation for your loved one's pre-death pain and suffering; associated medical costs; funeral expenses; loss of income and inheritance; and loss of love and companionship.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Banafshe Law

To speak with one of our California wrongful death lawyers about your family’s legal rights, please call 800-789-8840 or contact us online. We look forward to assisting you in any way we can.