Orange County Wrongful Death Lawyers
Wrongful Death Claims in California
"Wrongful death" is the legal term used to describe the innocent death of someone in an accident that was caused by another person's negligence. Common examples range from car accidents and slip and fall accidents to product liability. Individuals and businesses alike can be responsible for these accidents and, therefore, for the wrongful deaths. State laws hold these parties liable for the emotional trauma and financial loss suffered by the surviving family members of those who lost their lives.
Have you lost a loved one in an accident? Consult a Orange County wrongful death lawyer from Harris Grombchevsky LLP to discuss your options for legal action. While nothing can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one's life, you deserve to pursue legal justice and recompense.
What are the Leading Causes of Wrongful Death in Orange County?
The most common causes of death are similar to the most common causes of personal injury.
The leading causes of wrongful death in Orange County include:
- Auto accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective products
- Dog bites or animal attacks
- Construction accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Truck accidents
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to California law, the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, and/or grandchildren of any deceased child of the decedent are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court and recover damages.
However, if there is no surviving individual in the decedent’s line of descent, anyone who would be entitled to the deceased person’s property can file a lawsuit—such as the decedent’s parents or legal guardians, siblings, and stepchildren—so long as they can show they were at least 50 percent financially dependent on the decedent.
Damages for which you can recover compensation include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills incurred before your loved one's death
- Loss of income
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death in California?
A wrongful death claim arises when a person dies because of another individual’s or entity’s negligence, medical malpractice, or even intentional act (i.e., crimes). To succeed in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted in a negligent, reckless, or intentional manner.
The following are the four elements you must prove in a wrongful death lawsuit in California:
- Duty – The defendant owed the decedent (the deceased individual) a duty of reasonable care
- Breach of duty – The defendant breached their duty due to negligence, malpractice, or an intentional act
- Causation – The defendant’s breach directly caused the decedent’s death based upon a preponderance of evidence (i.e., more likely than not)
- Damages – The surviving members of the decedent's family suffered losses
What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims?
In California, surviving family members have two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. If the plaintiff does not file a claim within the two-year time limit, they will lose the right to recover any compensation.
However, if a wrongful death involves medical malpractice, the surviving members must file a claim within three years from the date of the death. If the harm causing the death was not known immediately and only discovered later after the fact, the court may give the plaintiff additional time to file a lawsuit.
Lastly, if a wrongful death involves a government agency or employee, the plaintiff has six months after the death of the death to file a claim against the local, city, or state government.
Call a Orange County Personal Injury Attorney at (888) 427-8064
When you choose to retain a wrongful death attorney from our firm, you will have a skilled legal team on your side to review every detail of your situation and ensure that you have the strongest possible case for wrongful death. Our legal team can build a strong argument to maximize your compensation after the loss of a loved one in any kind of accident.
Harris Grombchevsky LLP has been serving clients across Orange County for many years. We are extremely familiar with California's wrongful death laws and have a proven history of excellence and quality results. Our firm is well-known by attorneys and judges throughout the region and we are always ready and able to take on difficult cases with diligence and determination.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you!