Pursuing a wrongful death case on behalf of survivors in California is complex, and the legal counsel of an experienced attorney is vital to your success. It is important to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. The discovery period of your case, retaining experts and case preparation take time. Additionally, strict statutes of limitation may govern when and if you can file a civil action seeking damages.
If you believe the death of a loved one was caused by the negligent or wrongful act of another, you may have a wrongful death case that is worth pursuing for compensation. At Winer, Burritt & Tillis, we provide legal counsel and representation to people throughout California. We help people seek deserved compensation from individuals, companies and health care providers whose irresponsible actions led to or caused the death of our clients’ loved ones.
With offices in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, our compassionate attorneys are at your service. We have the resources and experience to pursue cases involving accidents, malpractice, elder abuse and murder. Our personal injury attorneys have more than 60 years of combined experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout the state.
Our law firm has obtained more than $200 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. Call us today at (510) 433-1000 to discuss how we can hold responsible parties accountable for your loss.
Who Can Recover In A California Wrongful Death Case?
One of the greatest points of clarification necessary concerning a wrongful death cause of action is communicating who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one dies. California law is quite precise about this, and only certain survivors may be designated to bring a wrongful death case in certain situations. So, who can recover?
A Summary Of California Wrongful Death Recovery Law
- If the deceased person (decedent) was married, the spouse or registered domestic partner at the time of death may bring a lawsuit.
- If the decedent also had children, they may bring a lawsuit. If a child has pre-deceased decedent, the children of that child (the grandchildren) may bring a case.
- If the decedent was married but had no children, the decedent’s parents may bring a lawsuit.
- If the decedent had no surviving spouse, children or parents, the decedent’s siblings, or other dependents may bring a lawsuit.
- If a minor child dies, the decedent’s parents may bring a lawsuit. If the parents are dead, the decedents siblings can bring a case.
In most cases in which a will was not drafted by the decedent, those who would be entitled to inherit property and assets, along with those who were financial dependents of the decedent, may have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
For more information about compensation and who can recover in a wrongful death case, call Winer, Burritt & Tillis at (510) 433-1000
Survivors are entitled to compensation for losses, including:
- Medical costs
- The value of future monetary contributions and personal service, advice or training from the decedent
- Loss of love
- Loss of companionship, comfort, society, affection, solace or moral support
Punitive damages are recoverable only in “survival actions,” which entitle the estate of the deceased to recover economic losses incurred as a result of the incident that eventually caused the death even if the deceased survived the incident that killed them, even for a moment.
It is important to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Many complexities may sway the results of your unique case, and strict statutes of limitations exist, as they do with all personal injury cases. Please see our wrongful death FAQ for more information.
Statute Of Limitations In a Wrongful Death Case
Generally, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. However, the source and nature of the action that caused death, the circumstances of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s), and other factors such as the following also contribute:
- Medical malpractice claims may have a one-year statute of limitations.
- If a case is being brought against a California government entity, a government tort claim must be filed first. A 180-day limitation period exists for these claims.
Aspects of a California Wrongful Death Case
Our attorneys can help you with every aspect of your wrongful death case. This includes issues involving:
- Damages in wrongful death cases — Damages often include medical costs; value of monetary contributions; emotional losses such as loss of companionship, psychological impact of the death on survivors and other personal losses.
- The emotional impact to the family — Emotional and psychological impacts may be devastating and cause severe damages. They require professional evaluation.
- Fatal motor vehicle accidents — Car crashes are one of the leading causes of wrongful death.
- Fatal workplace accidents — Our attorneys are familiar with all types of causes of wrongful death in the workplace across a variety of industries. Case types include occupational hazards such as exposure to hazardous conditions, substances or fumes, falls and other accidents.
- Fatal motorcycle and bicycle accidents — We are committed to helping those left behind after a fatal motorcycle or bicycle crash takes the life of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, child or guardian.
- Child death — Tragically, children in California die every day from preventable circumstances. We help our clients cope and gain monetary recovery for losses.
- Pedestrian accidents — We handle cases throughout California where pedestrians are killed by moving vehicles.
- Train, plane and boat accidents. We also handle cases in which a loved one is killed in a train, plane or boat accident.
A settlement for damages or a favorable verdict in a wrongful death action will not bring your loved one back, but the process of coping with loss, medical expenses, lost income and painful psychological trauma can be aided by obtaining fair and just compensation with the help of a dedicated attorney.
Why Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney in Los Angeles?
In almost every wrongful death case, the potential plaintiffs should consult with an attorney. The law in this area is complex as to who is entitled to bring a case and who is entitled to a recovery, and will usually need to be sorted out by an attorney. Further, even in a case in which the decedent was killed by a person with a relatively low insurance policy limit, it is wise to seek the advice of an attorney because an investigation may reveal other potential defendants who are responsible for the death who are more capable of paying damages.
Damages Recoverable In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In California
Damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit consist of many types of financial costs and losses, emotional burdens and psychological impacts. These damages include past, present and future losses.
In California, punitive (punishment) damages are not recoverable in wrongful death cases. However, they are recoverable in “survival actions,” which entitle the estate of the deceased (decedent) to recover economic losses incurred as a result of the incident that eventually caused the death. The key is being able to prove that the decedent survived the initial accident, even for a very short period of time, before he or she died of injuries.
- Survival actions may be brought together with a wrongful death action for the benefit of the decedent’s estate. The heirs of the estate would receive distributions of any compensation award.
- Punitive damages may be awarded to the estate in a survival action to punish the negligent party or wrongdoer whose actions caused the death. The financial payout is meant to deter others from malicious or serious wrongful acts in the future.
Establishing the value of damages in a wrongful death case and doing it accurately are critical. This is mainly done by determining the financial value of damages, including:
- Medical costs and funeral expenses
- Loss of future monetary contributions and personal support, nurturing, advice, guidance, training, services and inheritance from the decedent
- Loss of love, companionship, comfort, society, affection, solace or moral support
Many factors are considered in establishing and litigating the compensation awarded in a wrongful death case. Expert witnesses (e.g., economists, psychologists, medical doctors, etc.) may be necessary to establish the full, fair and true value of the case. Factors such as life expectancy, age, earning potential, education, health, intelligence, character, parental responsibilities, spending and saving patterns, and the circumstances of survivors/beneficiaries may all be necessary to consider.
Even the cases of homemakers (stay-at-home moms or dads) and unemployed individuals at the time of death may be valuable as we calculate the loss of his or her contributions to the household and the family; loss of love; loss of companionship; loss of comfort; loss of society; loss of affection; loss of solace and loss of moral support.
A consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death damages lawyers in Oakland, San Francisco or Los Angeles is important to understanding your options and rights.
Monetary compensation may help you cope with loss, cover expenses and plan for a more secure future. Establishing the fair value of your case can only be done through honest, dedicated counsel and representation.
Pursuing Compensation In A Wrongful Death Case
It is critical to seek consultation with an experienced California wrongful death attorney before agreeing to anything with an insurance company. Even your own insurance company is not likely to be fully transparent and genuine.
Insurance companies’ goals are to retain their own assets as much as possible. Their interests are in conflict with your needs and goals. At Winer, Burritt & Tillis, we fight for your best interests with integrity and passion. Our attorneys work tirelessly to obtain the maximum compensation that you are entitled to (the full payout that the insurance company would like to hold onto).
Our partner attorneys have more than 60 years of combined legal experience. With offices in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Northern and Southern California.
- We launch an independent investigation of the accident scene, collect and preserve evidence, gather witness testimony, prepare your case for litigation and handle all legal aspects of the case.
- We also retain accident reconstruction, medical and economic experts as necessary. We retain these experts to establish the full, fair value of your case and to testify to the unique, technical aspects of your case.
- $2,500,000 — 20-Year-Old Girl Killed as a Passenger in a Solo Automobile Accident
- $2,000,000 — Wrongful Death of Politician and Cameraman
Contact Our Los Angeles Attorneys
Contact Winer, Burritt & Tillis, today at (510) 433-1000 toll free to speak with a Los Angeles-, San Francisco- or Oakland-based wrongful death lawyer. We offer free initial consultations and pursue all cases on a contingency fee basis.
“Mr. Winer is considered one of the leaders of the Plaintiff’s bar in the Bay Area and California, and a seriously injured person or survivors in a wrongful death case would be well served if Winer, Burritt & Tillis agreed to take their case.”
Don Galine, Esq., Vice President of Consumer Attorneys of California