How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

You might have a long list of questions after losing your loved one in a wrongful death accident without any warning. Some of these questions might include:

  • How to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California;
  • Who to talk to about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California; and
  • Where to find a lawyer who can guide you through a wrongful death suit.

Look no further. The Larsen Firm is here to help. We have a 99% success rate with wrongful death claims throughout California and have recovered over $950 million for our clients over the years. 

Who Qualifies to File a Wrongful Death Suit?

Before asking how to file a wrongful death suit, you need to know who can file it. California only allows certain people to bring wrongful death actions. The qualified parties include certain surviving family members of the deceased, such as:

  • Spouses,
  • Children,
  • Domestic partners, or
  • Descendants of any of the decedent’s children who are no longer living.

“Domestic partner” means any person involved in a registered domestic partnership, as described by the California family code, with the deceased at his or her time of death. If none of these parties exist at the time of the decedent’s death, the laws of intestate succession dictate who can file the wrongful death claim.

What Kind of Damages Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Compensate For?

In a wrongful death suit, the claimant seeks reimbursement for the financial losses incurred due to their loved one’s death. The court can award “just” damages to compensate for these losses. Common damages sought in wrongful death claims include:

  • The estimated amount of income and benefits the deceased would have earned in their lifetime;
  • Funeral and burial costs;
  • Value of lost future gifts and benefits the decedent would have provided;
  • Loss of household services the deceased would have performed;
  • Lack of the decedent’s guidance and advice;
  • Loss of the decedent’s financial support; and
  • Loss of intangible support like love and affection, encouragement, and attention.

Determining the value of your loved one’s life is never an easy process. Let our team of wrongful death attorneys help. We can ascertain the general value of your claim and help you secure the maximum settlement possible.

How Long Do I Have to Consider Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims allows surviving family members to bring their claims for up to two years following the death of their loved one. If you do not file your wrongful death claim within the two-year time frame, you can lose your right to file the claim at all. If you try to file a wrongful death claim after the California statute of limitations has run, the judge will likely dismiss your case.

There are a few exceptions to the two-year limit. First, if the claimants could not have known about the death of their loved one, the statutory period pauses until they reasonably should have discovered the death. Second, if the defendant is a government entity or employee, the statutory period shrinks to only six months. Third, if the party eligible to bring the wrongful death claim is a minor, the two-year statute of limitations does not start running until the claimant turns 18.

California has other limited exceptions to its statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including:

  • If the defendant leaves the state after the accident, the statute of limitations begins once the defendant returns to the state;
  • When the plaintiff is in prison at the time of their loved one’s death, the statute of limitations starts when the plaintiff gets out of prison; and
  • If the plaintiff is mentally ill or in a coma, the statute of limitations period begins running when the plaintiff is declared legally competent.

Despite these narrow exceptions, it is always recommended that you contact a wrongful death attorney right away to discuss your case.

Need Advice on How to File a Wrongful Death Claim? Contact The Larsen Firm Today

If you lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence, you might qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. You may still be confused about how to file a wrongful death suit. That’s natural because the law is complex. Our team at The Larsen Firm can guide you through the process. We know how to handle insurance companies, sidestep their pressure tactics, and we know how to secure a fair settlement. And if the opposition will not be reasonable, we know how to take your case to trial and win. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is not easy, and no amount of money will make the grief go away. But we can give you the best opportunity to secure the maximum settlement amount possible so you can move on with your life. Contact The Larsen Firm to schedule your free initial consultation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top