Losing a loved one because of an accident or harmful act is a heart-wrenching and incredibly painful experience. Following this kind of loss, the family members of a loved one may file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit may be necessary to cover funeral expenses and other final costs, and it holds accountable the party or parties that caused a loved one’s death. The attorneys at Williams Iagmin, LLP provide compassionate legal advocacy for the family members of a lost loved one and are zealous advocates for their claims in court.
A wrongful death claim arises out of the loss of a loved one because of the negligence or intentional acts of another. The most common cause of a wrongful death claim is a fatal car accident, but other claims arise from slip and falls, medical malpractice, and intentional, violent acts.
Under California law, a wrongful death claim is not allowed in a medical malpractice situation in which the initial chances of survival were less than 50%. In addition, the law states that an unborn child is not actionable for a wrongful death case, nor is a death resulting from a justifiable homicide. However, death by suicide may be actionable if another party had a duty of care to the victim, and because of a breach of that duty, the suicide occurred.
The California Civil Code explains who may sue for wrongful death following a fatal accident. Under the California Wrongful Death Act, the spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, step-children, dependents, or anyone entitled to property is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the law also provides that only one wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against a responsible party involved in the death.
Known as the one-action rule, all claimants in a wrongful death lawsuit must file a single lawsuit against a responsible party. This negates the need to prevent against defending multiple lawsuits and prevents differing results for the claimants. If a family member is not party to the initial lawsuit, he or she will be barred from bringing another lawsuit against the same responsible party in the future.
California law provides three different statutes of limitation on wrongful death claims depending on the circumstances of the incident. For most wrongful death claims based on negligence or an intentional act, the family has two years from the date of death to file the lawsuit. If the wrongful death case arises from a medical malpractice claim, the family has three years from the date of death or one year after the date of discovery through reasonable diligence. Finally, if the wrongful death claim involves any government entity, the lawsuit must be filed within six months of the date of death.
Given the complex and varied set of rules and regulations regarding a wrongful death case, having an attorney with experience in wrongful death cases can mean the difference between compensation for the loss of a loved one and nothing at all.
A number of personal injury damages are available to the family of a loved one in a wrongful death case. Compensation includes, but is not limited to, the following:
While no amount of money can ever bring back a loved one, being compensated for a wrongful death can help ease any financial burdens and begin the healing process by holding those responsible accountable for the death. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or intentional acts of another, call the office of Williams Iagmin today for a free consultation of your case.