Legally reviewed by:
Setareh Law
June 28, 2024

Losing a loved one is an incredibly painful experience, especially when their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. In California, the law provides a way for surviving family members to seek justice and compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. This legal process can be complex and emotionally draining, but understanding the steps involved can help you navigate it more effectively. If you’re considering this legal path, it’s essential to know what to expect and how to proceed.

At Setareh Law Firm, we understand the challenges you face during such a difficult time. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and professional legal support to help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve. We have extensive experience handling wrongful death cases and are committed to guiding you through each step of the process. By partnering with us, you can focus on healing while we handle the legal complexities.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In California, not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The law specifies only certain individuals have the legal standing to bring such a claim. Typically, the following parties can file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner: The spouse or registered domestic partner of the deceased person has the primary right to file the lawsuit.
  • Children of the deceased: The biological or adopted children of the deceased person are also eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
  • Other heirs: If there is no surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, other individuals who would be entitled to the deceased person’s property under California’s intestate succession laws can file the lawsuit.

Understanding who can file the lawsuit is crucial because it affects the legal standing and the potential outcome of the case. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can help you determine if you have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim and ensure all eligible parties are included in the lawsuit.

Key Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

To successfully file a wrongful death lawsuit in California, several key elements must be established. These elements form the foundation of the case and are essential for proving liability and securing compensation. The primary elements include:

  • Duty of care: It must be shown the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. This means the defendant had a legal obligation to act in a certain way to prevent harm.
  • Breach of duty: You must demonstrate the defendant breached this duty of care through negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing.
  • Causation: It is necessary to prove the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the death of your loved one.
  • Damages: Finally, you must show the death resulted in specific damages, such as financial losses, emotional distress, and loss of companionship.

Each of these elements requires thorough investigation and evidence. An experienced attorney can help gather the necessary documentation, witness statements, and expert testimony to build a strong case.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In California, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations, which is the legal timeframe within which you must file your claim. Failing to file within this period can result in losing your right to seek compensation. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in California is generally two years from the date of the deceased person’s death.

However, there are certain exceptions and variations to this rule. For instance, if the wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice, there may be different deadlines. Additionally, if the case involves a government entity, special procedures and shorter time limits may apply. It is crucial to consult with a lawyer promptly to ensure your case is filed within the appropriate timeframe and to avoid any procedural pitfalls.

What Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit are intended to compensate surviving family members for the losses they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. These damages can be both economic and non-economic and may include:

  • Economic damages: These include quantifiable financial losses such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills incurred before death, lost income and benefits, and the value of household services the deceased person provided.
  • Non-economic damages: These encompass more subjective losses such as loss of companionship, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages: In cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

Determining the value of these damages requires careful evaluation and documentation. An experienced attorney can help you accurately calculate and present these damages to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Why Choose Setareh Law Firm for Your Case?

Navigating a wrongful death lawsuit can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. At Setareh Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing exceptional legal representation to families in their time of need. Our team understands the emotional and financial toll a wrongful death can take, and we are committed to fighting for justice on your behalf.

We offer compassionate support and aggressive advocacy to ensure your case is handled with the utmost care and attention. By choosing Setareh Law Firm, you benefit from our extensive experience, proven track record, and unwavering dedication to our clients. Contact us today at (310) 659-1826 or visit our contact form to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can assist you in pursuing justice for your loved one.