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When can I file a wrongful death claim in California?

On Behalf of | Oct 31, 2022 | Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one under any circumstance is never easy. But if the death of someone you love and care about is attributable to someone else’s reckless actions, the loss can be particularly difficult to deal cope with. If someone in your family is a victim of wrongful death, you may consider pursuing the liable party for damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Under California’s wrongful death laws, the victim’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from the date of your loved one’s death. This lawsuit usually takes into account the full value of the deceased’s life at the time of death and may seek financial as well as non-financial damages. But when can you file this lawsuit?

Circumstances when wrongful death claims apply

Generally, wrongful death claims arise in situations where a personal injury victim would have legally filed a claim against the negligent party had they survived the injuries that lead to their death. Here are instances when this can happen:

When the killing was intentional

If someone intentionally kills another person, they may be sued for wrongful death. For instance, if the defendant shoot, stabs or kills the victim, they will be charged with a criminal offense (murder or manslaughter). Additionally, the victim’s family may bring a civil lawsuit against the defendant. The wrongful death claim is a civil matter that will run concurrently with the criminal case.

Medical malpractice

If a healthcare provider fails to provide the expected standard of care or if they act negligently leading to death, then the decedent’s family can sue for wrongful death under established medical malpractice provisions.

Car accidents

If a car wreck leads to your loved one’s death, and investigations reveal that the person who caused the crash acted negligently on the road, then they may be pursued for wrongful death. Examples of reckless behaviors that may justify a wrongful death claim include driving under influence, reckless driving or disregarding traffic rules.

Losing a loved one is tough. Find out how you can pursue damages if you lose a loved one due to someone else’s reckless actions.