California law permits close family members to sue for wrongful death when a loved one is killed due to the intentional, reckless, or negligent actions of another person or entity. There are specific rules governing who can sue and the kinds of damages one might seek in wrongful death. Spouses, registered domestic partners, children, or parents may recover for the loss of their loved one. That loss includes both financial losses as well as loss of companionship. If the person died without a spouse or registered domestic partner, then even siblings may be able to file suit.
A suit for wrongful death must be filed within two years of the date of death. This is called the statute of limitations and it is strictly enforced by the courts. If the death was caused by a public entity—a city, state, or county—there is a shorter period in which to file a claim: six months. Again, this statute of limitations is strictly enforced by the courts.
If a loved one was killed due to the intentional, reckless, or negligent act of another person or institution, you should seek immediate counsel from an experienced wrongful death attorney. Time matters in preserving physical evidence, identifying witnesses and taking witness statements when memory is still vivid, investigating the cause of the incident, and establishing the full extent of the injuries and losses.
When looking for a skilled and experienced wrongful death attorney, Arns Davis Law is here in the San Francisco Bay Area to provide compassionate and aggressive legal representation that guides you through your recovery and compensation.
Defining Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is a fatality caused by the intentional, reckless, or negligent acts of another person or institution. Wrongful death can result from:
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Defective machinery
- Defective or dangerous products
- Automobile accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional harm, such as a fight or murder
- Premises liability in private homes and in public places
Who Has the Right to Sue for Wrongful Death?
California law is very specific as to who has the right to sue for wrongful death. A surviving spouse or registered domestic partner has the right to sue. Those who were dependent on the deceased for their financial support may also sue: a minor child who has lived with the deceased and was dependent on them for half or more of their support for at least 180 days before the accident. Other possible dependents include a parent, grandparent, or stepchild. If the deceased did not have a spouse or surviving children or grandchildren, then siblings may file suit for wrongful death.
In addition, a personal representative for the deceased’s estate may file a survival action to collect compensation for the damage that the person sustained before death, including penalties and punitive damages.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death action can recover damages, although pain and suffering compensation is not included:
- Medical expenses incurred during the care of the deceased before death
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost wages, including estimated future income
- Damages for loss of financial support by the deceased
- Loss of love, care, comfort, companionship, physical and moral support, and the loss of intimate relations with the deceased, if the suit is filed by a spouse or registered domestic partner
When Wrongful Death Claims Apply
Any intentional, reckless, or negligent act can lead to the death of another. The circumstances of the harm can vary from intentional murder to medical malpractice to vehicular accidents to product liability. Finding all of the culpable parties, especially those with insurance policies and deep financial pockets, is an important factor in bringing a wrongful death claim.
Establishing legal liability is a must. And documenting all of the damages resulting from the wrongful death is essential to a successful claim. At Arns Davis Law, we are dedicated to acting compassionately and aggressively on your behalf.
How to File for a Wrongful Death Claim
A suit for wrongful death must be filed within two years of the death of the deceased. If the defendant is a California governmental entity—state or local—a notice of claim must be filed within six months of the deceased’s death. Therefore, it is important to preserve your options by consulting with a skilled and experienced wrong death attorney as soon as possible.
First, it is important to gather evidence and witness accounts as close to the time of the incident in order to preserve evidence and document vivid memory. The wrongful death attorneys at Arns Davis Law will do the heavy lifting of locating police, coroner’s, and medical reports, independently investigating the incident, and compiling substantial evidence to support your claim. Many times wrongful death suits require accident investigators, product engineers, and medical experts. The wrongful death lawyers at Arns Davis Law will do all that is necessary to collect and evaluate evidence to construct a feasible story of liability to support your claim.
When You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, Call Arns Davis Law
At Arns Davis Law we guide our clients with dignity and respect throughout the legal process from initial consultation through settlement. Being the survivor of a wrongful death requires that you surround yourself with people who will advocate for your best interests. That advocacy needs to be supported by a thorough knowledge of the law, experience with negotiation and litigation, and genuine people skills. Add to the mix a devotion to ethical principles and passion. That’s what we offer to you at Arns Davis Law. Our attorneys will listen, ask the right questions, and use their legal knowledge and experience to forge a strategy to hold defendants accountable for your injury and full compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Contact us online or call Arns Davis Law to schedule a meeting with one of our lawyers.