Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death can be traumatic for surviving family members, particularly if the death was preventable. Not only are you emotionally devastated, but you may now be facing significant financial hardships that add to your grief.
At Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP, our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys strive to alleviate the financial burden placed on surviving families by holding culpable parties accountable. We are dedicated to seeking full compensation for those who have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, so when you need guidance through this legal process, we’re here for you.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in California
A wrongful death claim can be brought against a variety of negligent parties, such as individuals, careless property owners, manufacturers, product designers, marketing companies, and healthcare professionals. The following are examples of different parties who may be responsible for wrongful death:
- An inattentive, reckless, or drunk driver
- A medical professional who commits malpractice
- Designers of unsafe roadways, bridges, or other public structures
- Manufacturers of dangerous medications or drugs
- Manufacturers of defective auto parts, vehicles, or other products
- Bartenders who continue to serve intoxicated customers
- An agency that fails to provide adequate warnings for potentially hazardous roadways or other circumstances
These are only examples. A wrongful death attorney at our law office can listen to your story and advise you whether your loved one’s unexpected death is compensable and who the at-fault party may be.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in California
To file a wrongful death claim, you must be prepared to prove the following:
- Your loved one died
- Their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or deliberate actions
- You and other survivors suffered financial losses due to the death
- A representative has been selected for the estate of the deceased person
In California, the following people can file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- A surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving children
- Surviving grandchildren
When there is no one left in a deceased person’s line of descent, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by anyone who is entitled to inherit the decedent’s property by intestate succession. Depending on who is alive at the time of the fatal accident, this can include the deceased person’s parents or siblings, putative spouse, stepchildren, and minor children who were financially dependent on them.
Every case is different, however. If you have questions or concerns about taking legal action after a fatal accident, seek advice from an experienced Los Angeles injury lawyer about your legal options.
Negligence as It Pertains to Wrongful Death
In order to bring forth and win a wrongful death suit in California, you must prove that your loved one’s tragic death would not have occurred but for the negligent actions of the entity or person responsible. Negligence is defined as failing to act with a reasonable degree of care and can refer to several types of actions or omissions. Examples of common types include:
- The failure of a driver to operate their motor vehicle while sober, resulting in an accident with fatal injuries
- The failure of a property owner to build a fence around their pool, resulting in the drowning of a child
- The failure of a company to warn about safety risks associated with their defective products
- The failure of a hotel to perform employee background checks, resulting in a fatal assault
- The failure of an automaker to manufacture safe vehicles or to recall defective vehicles, which results in a crash
There are a variety of accidents in which wrongful death claims may be justified, such as slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, bike and motorcycle accidents, medical negligence, dog bites, product liability, and assault cases. In each of these situations, the defendant must have owed the wrongful death victim a duty of care and failed to act as a reasonable person should.
In addition to proving negligence, a wrongful death plaintiff must prove causation and monetary damages, both of which are outlined below.
Causation means proving that the death of the decedent would not have occurred without the defendant’s negligence.
In some cases, the defense will argue that the death would have happened regardless of whether the defendant was negligent. If, for instance, a bicyclist rode directly in front of a drunk driver’s vehicle, resulting in their death, the defense may claim that the cyclist moved in front of the car and the accident occurred regardless of the driver’s condition, so the driver should not be held liable.
This possibility is one of the reasons why you should pursue your claim with the help of a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer. When we take a case, we advocate for you and your family and challenge any attempt to unfairly assign blame to your deceased loved one and deny you fair compensation. Business entities, in particular, tend to hire aggressive counsel to support their case, but we won’t be deterred from our goal of getting you full compensation.
Wrongful Death Damages
It is also necessary to prove that the plaintiff has suffered actual damages following the death. Although the loss of a loved one is devastating, proof of medical care expenses, emotional harm, lost wages, etc. must also be provided to receive a compensation award or recovery. Your wrongful death attorney at the personal injury law firm of Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP will help you assemble evidence of all monetary and non-monetary losses so that you stand the best chance of receiving maximum compensation.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable in a California Wrongful Death Claim?
Compared to a personal injury claim, a wrongful death lawsuit offers slightly different damage types. You may be able to receive financial compensation for:
- Medical expenses incurred by the deceased prior to death as a result of the accident and injury
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- The deceased’s lost wages and benefits, including future income
- Loss of household services, such as child care, that the deceased provided
- Loss of companionship and guidance of the deceased (loss of consortium)
- Emotional distress over the loss
- Property damage
Wrongful death claims do not generally allow punitive damages, which are intended to punish the liable party. This is the case regardless of how malicious or reprehensible the defendant’s conduct was. There are only two exceptions:
- When the deceased suffered an economic loss before death, a survivor action may be filed on behalf of the estate. Examples of such losses include medical bills and lost wages. If the person died immediately, pursuing this option becomes more difficult.
- You may be eligible for punitive damages if the death of a loved one was due to felony homicide. This means that such damages are available to a plaintiff if the jury in a criminal trial finds that the decedent’s death was an act of intentional violence.
Your Los Angeles accidental death lawyer can advise you on whether pursuing punitive damages may be appropriate for your case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Your wrongful death action must be filed before the state’s statute of limitations runs out or you will be forever barred from recovering damages. In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is generally two years from the date of death, but there are exceptions.
For instance, if a person dies as a result of medical malpractice, then the statute of limitations is either one year from the date the cause of death was discovered, or three years from the date of death, whichever occurs first.
Why Work with a Wrongful Death Attorney?
When you are grieving the loss of a loved one and trying to imagine what your life will look like as you move forward, hiring a California wrongful death lawyer and filing a lawsuit is probably the last thing on your mind.
Although it’s understandable that you may need time to grieve, it’s in your best interests to hire an attorney sooner rather than later. Your lawyer can assist you in filing your claim, help you understand the amount of money you deserve, and negotiate a fair settlement. Additionally, a skilled attorney will assist you in collecting medical records and interpreting the myriad legal rules and theories, such as negligence, the statute of limitations, and more.
At Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP, our experienced lawyers will handle all aspects of your claim for you, so you can concentrate on things that matter most to you, such as taking care of yourself and your family. Our legal services include managing the investigation of your claim, the hiring of experts and medical professionals, the filing of your legal claim, negotiations, and litigation if needed. We understand how sensitive wrongful death claims can be, and will treat your case with compassion and understanding.
Get Compassionate Advice From a California Wrongful Death Attorney
If you lose a family member due to the negligent and careless actions of another, call Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP. The experienced personal injury attorneys at our law firm understand how difficult this is for you and will help you navigate the legal system with skill and compassion. We will vigorously advocate for you and ensure the case is handled effectively and promptly, so you receive a wrongful death settlement that helps you cope financially with your loss.
To schedule a confidential initial consultation about your case and possible legal representation, please contact us. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we only get paid if we win your case, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.