Irvine Wrongful Death Lawyer Helping the Families of Those Taken Too Soon
The unexpected loss of a loved one can be incredibly traumatic for the family members left behind. The emotional distress is compounded further when the tragedy places the surviving spouse, children, parents, or other loved ones in financial hardship. Facing unanticipated expenses for medical treatment, lost household income, and additional costs can all increase the stress for those grieving a tragic loss. All of these difficulties are made even worse by knowing that your loved one would still be alive if not for the negligence of another.
A wrongful death attorney understands the challenges a family can face after losing a loved one. Hejazi Law Group approaches every wrongful death case with compassion, tact, and a tireless drive to seek justice for the family. You do not have to face this alone. You will receive guidance and support through every step of the process. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation regarding your wrongful death case: (949) 749-7402.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim can be brought if someone dies and another person or entity is legally liable. In these lawsuits, the at-fault party is held accountable for their actions, and the deceased’s family members are compensated financially for the losses they’ve experienced. In many cases, wrongful death is due to an accident directly caused by someone else, such as a fatal car accident. However, individuals or entities may also be held responsible for a death they indirectly caused. For example, an employer who did not properly maintain their equipment, resulting in a deadly on-the-job accident, could be liable.
Intentional actions, such as murder or deadly assaults, can also result in a wrongful death claim in addition to criminal proceedings. A wrongful death claim is a matter for the civil court and is not affected by the criminal case’s outcome. In fact, it is possible for a defendant to be acquitted in a criminal trial but still be ordered to pay compensation to the victim’s family in a civil trial because the civil court requires a lower burden of proof.
What Leads to Wrongful Deaths?
Wrongful deaths can occur in many different circumstances, leaving families in shock and grief. The common thread is that the death was the direct result of another person’s negligent actions, regardless of whether those actions were accidental or intentional. Generally, a wrongful death claim is a viable legal option if the victim would have been eligible to file a personal injury claim if they had survived. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death cases include:
- Car, motorcycle, and truck accidents
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Defective or malfunctioning product accidents
- Fatal accidents occurring during a supervised activity
- Premises liability accidents
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Each state sets its own laws regarding who can file a claim to pursue damages for a person’s wrongful death. In many states, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the only person who can bring a wrongful death claim to seek compensation on behalf of the family. However, California operates under slightly different rules. In California, immediate family members are also eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit because they are the individuals who have been the most affected by the passing of the decedent. The individuals allowed by law to file a claim after their loved one’s death include:
- Surviving spouse
- A registered domestic partner under California Family Code 297
- Grandchildren (if the decedent’s children have already passed)
- Stepchildren or other minor children dependent on the deceased person for at least 50% of their financial support
- Parents, if they were financially dependent on the decedent or if the decedent was a minor
- Other heirs, such as siblings and grandparents, or other next of kin
- A personal representative of the decedent’s estate
What Is the Statute of Limitations on California Wrongful Death Claims?
A statute of limitations is a state law regulating the length of time in which a court case can be filed. If plaintiffs fail to take legal action for a civil case within the statute of limitations, they lose their right to seek compensation from the defendant. As a general rule, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the person’s death.
However, a few circumstances can give a family more or less time to file a lawsuit. The most common exception involves what is known as the “discovery rule.” Under this rule, if the cause of death was not known at the time of the individual’s passing and was only discovered by the family later, they have two years from the date of discovery to file a claim. Minor children who have lost a parent are another exception. They have two years from the time they turn 18 to file a wrongful death claim for their parent’s passing.
Things become more complicated when medical malpractice is involved. The statute of limitations is three years for these wrongful death cases or one year from when the injury was or should have been discovered. Because these cases can rapidly get quite complex, you should consult with a lawyer to understand your legal rights. Getting prompt legal advice is also recommended in cases where the defendant is a government entity because the filing window can be as short as six months.
What Damages Are Surviving Family Members Eligible to Recover?
The unexpected death of a loved one is a traumatic event for any family. We often think about the substantial emotional impact of losing a family member, but the financial difficulties families face in the aftermath are also significant. Of course, no amount of money can ease the pain of losing a loved one. However, fair compensation can help ensure that a family does not lose their home, go into crippling debt, or suffer other harmful financial consequences because of someone else’s tragic, negligent actions. Depending on your situation, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to secure compensation for your family for some or all of the following damages:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of future support and services that the decedent had provided
- Loss of parental instruction and guidance for children
- Medical expenses resulting from the decedent’s accident
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of affection, relationship, companionship, and moral support for surviving family members
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Assist You?
Having a family member taken from you unexpectedly brings a wave of difficult emotions. It can be hard to contemplate your family’s future without your loved one. Those responsible for your losses need to be held accountable, so your grief isn’t multiplied by the anxiety of worrying about how you will provide for your family’s needs. For many people, getting justice can also be essential to reaching closure.
If you’ve lost a family member’s love, companionship, and financial support due to wrongful death, Hejazi Law Group can provide you with the compassionate legal help you deserve. Call (949) 749-7402 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.