In nearly any type of accident, an individual can die as a result of their injuries. Sometimes, death is instantaneous. In other situations, the person injured dies days, weeks, or even months later from complications of the injury they sustained in the accident.
Any time someone dies because of another party’s negligence, the decedent’s loved ones may seek compensation for their damages related to the loss through a wrongful death claim. Like with a personal injury claim, they must demonstrate how their loved one’s death would not have occurred if another party involved in the accident had acted in a reasonable manner. Heirs can file wrongful death claims after any type of fatal accident, such as a car accident, a slip and fall, a boating accident, or an act of medical malpractice. Family members can bring a claim for wrongful death damages for the loss they suffered. If appropriate, a claim can be brought by the estate of the decedent, for the decedent’s damages. These claims seek different damages, and represent different losses. The wrongful death damages are generally for the family member’s lost relationship with the decedent. A survival action seeks damages such as the decedent’s medical bills and in limited circumstances the decedent’s pain and suffering.
The loss of someone close to you is always very difficult, but it is even harder when they pass away because of someone else’s negligence. When someone you care about is taken away prematurely, you deserve to hold those accountable for their actions.
If you are looking for a wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, call us toll-free at 888-424-5352 or fill out our contact form so we can discuss your case in more detail.
When do I have a wrongful death case in Los Angeles?
To prove a wrongful death case, it must be shown that the death was caused by the negligence or intent of someone else.
Many different types of accidents can lead to wrongful death. Some examples include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including cars, buses, motorcycles, commercial trucks, and more;
- Driving under the influence;
- Medical malpractice;
- Faulty or defective products.
Unintentional deaths are far more common than we might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States in 2021 there were 224,935 accidental injury deaths and 45,404 motor vehicle deaths. Medical malpractice continues to be a leading cause of wrongful deaths, with medical errors accounting for as many as 251,000 deaths every year.
If you believe that the death of someone dear to you was due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles immediately. Contact us today.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
After an accidental death, the decedent’s spouse and children are “first in line” to recover compensation through a wrongful death claim. If the decedent had a domestic partner, the domestic partner has the same right that a spouse has to file a wrongful death claim.
When an individual dies without a spouse, domestic partner, or children, the party is deemed “next in line” by California’s intestate succession law. Usually, this is the decedent’s parents or siblings. In some cases, a stepchild or putative spouse, the individual who lived with the deceased and believed in good faith to be their legal spouse, can recover compensation for wrongful death damages.
Which Damages Can be Recovered When Someone Dies?
When a claim is made after someone dies, damages fall into two categories: those payable to the decedent’s estate and those payable to the individual who filed the wrongful death claim and any other beneficiaries named in the claim, such as the decedent’s minor children. Although ultimately, the compensation paid to the decedent’s estate is passed along to their closest ones through estate plans and the probate process, this compensation may also be used to pay the estate’s debts.
Under California law, you are eligible to bring a wrongful death suit if you are the next of kin to the deceased, which includes family members such as spouses and domestic partners, children, parents, and siblings. As the next of kin, you may be entitled to receive compensation for a variety of losses related to the incident.
Economic and non-economic damages recovered for the party who filed the wrongful death claim may include:
- The decedent’s funeral and burial expenses;
- The decedent’s lost income. In addition to the wages they were earning at the time of their death, this category of damages includes the decedent’s projected earnings over the remainder of their career;
- The decedent’s financial contributions to their household;
- The decedent’s non-financial household contributions, like their daily chores and management of household expenses;
- The filer’s own loss of the relationship caused by the decedent’s death and;
- The loss of the decedent’s companionship, guidance, society, comfort, care, and love.
The Role of a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Law Firm
After losing someone dear to you in an accident, the decedent’s heir in a position to pursue compensation may file a wrongful death claim with the allegedly negligent party’s insurance provider. Depending on the type of accident that occurred, this could be their automobile, homeowner, or commercial insurance provider.
When you hire a wrongful death attorney like Dolan Law Firm, you get a legal partner who will:
- Thoroughly investigate and evaluate your case to establish liability;
- Interview witnesses and line up expert testimony and evidence;
- Represent you in all case matters, including with the insurance company and if necessary, at trial.
Although we hope that the parties responsible will offer fair compensation for the pain and suffering caused, we know that is not always the case—so we are always prepared to go to trial, if needed, to advocate on your behalf.
In the claim, the filer must provide sufficient evidence to support their assertion that the insured party acted in a liable manner and that this fault directly caused the event that resulted in the decedent’s death. A wrongful death case brought by the family members must have evidence of the loss of the relationship with the decedent. A survival action brought on behalf of the estate must show the damages the decedent suffered. An experienced wrongful death attorney at the Dolan Law Firm Los Angeles can advise you on which claims can and should be brought in your case.
Contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after losing someone dear to you. They can help you gather relevant evidence to support your claim, file the claim, and advise you through the claim settlement process. The evidence you use to support your claim can include:
- Photographs of the accident scene;
- A copy of the official police report for the accident;
- Eyewitness testimonies of the accident;
- Video surveillance that captured the accident;
- Copies of your loved one’s medical expenses;
- Copies of your loved one’s funeral expenses;
- Documentation showing your loved one’s current wage rate and their projected compensation for the remainder of their career;
- Testimony from expert witnesses, including scientists, engineers, medical doctors or others, whose professional knowledge enables them to talk about an accident and injury without having witnessed it firsthand;
- Documentation showing the loss of your relationship following the death and how it has affected your life and;
- Documentation showing your loved one’s role in your family as a spouse, parent, and provider.
Timelines for Filing a Wrongful Death Suit in Los Angeles
Please be advised that your potential case is governed by a statute of limitations (a limited time period in which you must begin a lawsuit). The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California can be as short as six months or up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death. We do not have enough information to identify which statute of limitations applies in your case. You should consult with a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer, the California Code of Civil Procedure, internet resources, and/or visit your law library to identify the applicable statute of limitations for your matter. A lawsuit is not the same as an insurance claim – a lawsuit is a drawn-out legal process that progresses through multiple stages to reach a final verdict. Claimants typically file wrongful death lawsuits when they are unable to reach fair settlements with negligent parties’ insurance providers.
If the wrongful death case is not handled within the statute of limitations, it is possible to lose all rights to compensation and damages. That is why, if your family has suffered a wrongful death, we advise you to speak to a wrongful death law firm in Los Angeles as soon as possible so you can be informed of your time limits and your legal options.
Work with an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in Los Angeles
When you lose someone dear to you following an accident, the loss can be emotionally as well as financially devastating. Nothing can bring this person back, but a successful wrongful death claim can help you recover damages for your loss. One way to give your claim the best possible chance of succeeding is to work with an experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer who has a track record of recovering compensation for clients.
Contact our team at the Dolan Law Firm today to set up your initial consultation with us, during which we will go over your case in greater detail and advise you on the steps to take next.
Why should I choose the Dolan Law Firm over other wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles?
For almost 30 years, the Dolan Law Firm has been advocating on behalf of its clients just like you in Los Angeles and the Bay Area—and providing them with the best legal options and services to build their cases.
Since our founding in 1995, we have obtained over one billion dollars in compensation on behalf of our clients for cases related to personal injury. Founder Chris Dolan and our team of 15 wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles have been recognized within several practice areas for our expertise and our success. Learn more about the successful decisions we have won for our clients.
What would a wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles charge to take my case?
Most wrongful death lawyers in Los Angeles take nothing up front. At the Dolan Law Firm, we work purely on contingency, and we do not get paid unless we get you a verdict or a settlement. Our only focus is on giving every person the best legal support possible in your time of need. For your free case review, contact us at our Los Angeles law office.
When can I expect to receive damages following my wrongful death lawsuit?
We sympathize with your loss, and we will work as hard as we can to get you relief as soon as possible. All legal cases take time, unfortunately, and wrongful death suits are no exception, as we will have to research your case, establish liability, interview witnesses, obtain testimony, and otherwise prepare to proceed to trial. While cases can settle at any time, during or before litigation, the Dolan Law Firm is preparing for trial throughout the process. Navigating the legal system can be time-consuming, and each matter has a unique timeline determined by its own facts and circumstances.
We will keep you informed every step of the way. We also have a team of support staff and resources to help you manage any medical or financial expenses and/or costs while your case proceeds. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What damages can I expect in a Los Angeles wrongful death lawsuit?
Every wrongful death case is different, so we cannot offer a guaranteed range of compensation that you could expect to receive. Your case depends on both the type of incident, and the specific circumstances surrounding it.
We recommend you discuss the particulars of your case with a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney, such as the Dolan Law Firm. We are experienced in handling these cases and assisting our clients with settling their claims, including a $6 million settlement for a car accident fatality.
Please be advised that your potential case is governed by a statute of limitations (a limited time period in which you must begin a lawsuit). Statutes of limitations differ depending on the type of case involved. Some of these time periods may be as short as six months, while others can be as long as two years. We do not have enough information to identify which statute of limitations applies in your case. You should consult with a lawyer, the California Code of Civil Procedure, internet resources, and/or visit your law library to identify the applicable statute of limitations for your matter.