There are few things more devastating than the loss of a loved one. Knowing their death may have been preventable instills an even deeper level of grief. If your loved one’s death occurred because of someone else’s negligent or intentional action, you may be able to sue for wrongful death.
It is important to have a strong legal team behind you when filing a wrongful death case. The best wrongful death lawyer is someone who appreciates the emotional hardship you are enduring and is also experienced in this specific legal subject matter. At The Larsen Firm, we litigate California wrongful death claims with care, compassion, and dedicated representation.
What Is Wrongful Death in California?
In California, a wrongful death claim arises when a person’s death occurs as the result of the legal fault of another person or entity. When this happens, a civil lawsuit may be filed against the negligent party. Common examples of wrongful death include:
- Negligence-based accidents like car accidents,
- Medical malpractice, and
- Intentional acts.
Crimes resulting in death can also be tried as wrongful death cases. This is separate from criminal charges that may also apply.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Only certain people have the legal right to file a claim for wrongful death in California. According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60, et seq these people include:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner,
- The decedent’s surviving children, and
- The decedent’s surviving grandchildren.
In some situations, there may be no surviving persons that fit this line of descent. In this case, the lawsuit may be brought by any person “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” This may include the parents or siblings of the deceased.
If they can demonstrate that they were financially dependent on the deceased, there is another group of individuals who may also be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The decedent’s stepchildren,
- The decedent’s parents,
- Legal guardians of the decedent,
- The decedent’s “punitive spouse,” and
- Children of the decedent’s putative spouse.
A punitive spouse is someone who mistakenly believed that they were lawfully married to the deceased. Top wrongful death attorneys will be able to help you determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Are Your Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Suit?
Your chances of getting the compensation you deserve increase when you hire an experienced wrongful death law firm. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to wrongful death, and the best wrongful death lawyer will be able to anticipate most challenges that you may encounter.
It is important to understand the elements that make up a wrongful death claim. All these things must be present for you to file this type of lawsuit:
- The death of a person;
- The death was the result of a negligent or intentional act; and
- You suffered damages as a result of the death.
If all three of these elements are present, you can file a lawsuit. The more proof you have of these elements, the stronger your case will be. Choose top wrongful death attorneys who can help you determine if you have a winnable case.
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help?
As with any personal injury case, you are responsible for proving your claim. For many wrongful death cases, this begins with negligence. You and your attorney will need to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to your deceased loved one and that this duty was breached. For example, in the case of a car accident, the defendant had the duty to drive responsibly according to the law.
It is true that wrongful death may also be intentional, in which case you must prove the intent to harm. In many cases, the intent to cause harm or death will also constitute a crime. A wrongful death law firm will be able to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of death and whether the defendant was responsible.
One of the most important reasons to hire the best wrongful death lawyer you can find is that they will be able to determine how much your case is worth. Defendants and their insurance companies will often try to settle for significantly less than what you deserve. Losing a loved one is devastating enough without having to take on additional financial responsibility.
Choose the Best Wrongful Death Lawyer for Your Case
Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, you have only two years from the day your loved one passed to file a wrongful death claim. You may feel like you need that time to heal, and you certainly deserve it, but it is important to note that as more time passes, important evidence can become harder to obtain.
The experienced team of top wrongful death lawyers at The Larsen Firm has a 99% success rate with California wrongful death claims and has recovered over $950 million for our personal injury clients and their loved ones. Contact us today to schedule your wrongful death case consultation.