Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing someone we love and depend on can be both emotionally and financially crushing. The emotional trauma and financial burden that results from the loss of a loved one is usually unbearable. Additionally, if the cause of death was avoidable, such as in the case of an accident caused by negligence, it can be doubly heart-wrenching.
If a family member has suffered a wrongful death, please contact The Ryan Law Group today to discuss your case with a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer. We are committed to giving you the help and support you need during this difficult time.
Los Angeles Wrongful Death Resources
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
- Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Claims
- What Damages Can I Recover?
- What is the Statute of Limitations in California?
How Can The Ryan Law Group Help?
The Ryan Law Group is a Los Angeles personal injury law firm with a high success rate in helping victimized families recover substantial monetary compensations from wrongful death lawsuits.
We understand the magnitude of the loss of a loved one and its impact on the victim’s families. Utilizing our resources, we fully evaluate your claim and the circumstances behind your loved one’s tragic loss, ensuring that we have all the information necessary to pursue the maximum possible compensation you deserve.
Our comprehensive approach had led us to a track record of success among clients, securing multiple multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements—including one of the largest medical malpractice settlements in Orange County.
Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths
Some common causes of wrongful deaths includes:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Defective and/or dangerous products
- Premises liability cases
- Medical negligence and/or malpractice
- Surgical errors
- Workplace accidents
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
State laws often govern who can file a wrongful death claim. In California, a wrongful death claim can be filed by:
- The deceased’s immediate family which includes the surviving spouse (or domestic partner) and their children (or stepchildren).
- The deceased’s surviving parents, siblings (and their children) and even grandparents. These categories of people do not need to be dependent on the deceased before they can file a claim.
If nobody meets any of the above requirements, then the right to file a wrongful death claim falls on the deceased’s next of kin (California Civil Code 337.60).
Joint, Single, Indivisible
California prevents multiple lawsuits from being brought for the same death by a law that requires all eligible parties to join the same case. Wrongful death actions are considered to be joint, single and indivisible. Based on previous cases, these legal concepts are interpreted in the following ways:
- Joint action means any heir who is eligible to join the action must either do so voluntarily or be joined in the case as a defendant. This ensures there is only one verdict entered on all of the damages that can be recovered.
- A single action means that even if there are additional heirs that did not join the first action, only one wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.
- Indivisible action means a deceased individual’s heirs cannot proceed with separate lawsuits against the same defendant(s).
It is the plaintiff’s duty to join all known heirs into a single wrongful death action. If a plaintiff does not join all heirs, the case can still proceed to trial. However, any heirs who were knowingly omitted from eligibility can hold the plaintiff personally liable for their share of the financial recovery.
Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Claims
There are two different types of lawsuits available for families that lose loved ones in California: wrongful death claims and survival actions. A wrongful death claim compensates beneficiaries for their losses, such as medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost inheritance, loss of consortium, and mental anguish.
A survival action, on the other hand, compensates the deceased person’s estate for the decedent’s losses. These may include the decedent’s medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim in California, only the personal representative of the estate can bring a survival action. The family will have two years to bring a wrongful death claim, but only six months for a survival action.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
In a wrongful death claim, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove the case against the defendant. The burden of proof is enough evidence to show that the defendant more likely than not caused the decedent’s fatal injury. This is not the same burden of proof as a criminal case, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Proving a wrongful death case requires evidence that:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty to exercise reasonable care.
- The defendant violated this duty of care.
- The defendant’s careless or wrongful action caused the fatal injury.
This does not necessarily mean the defendant intentionally tried to harm the victim or knowingly committed a wrongdoing. Most wrongful death claims are centered on negligence. A person is negligent if he or she is careless and this injures or kills another person. You may need a personal injury lawyer’s assistance in collecting evidence and presenting it in the strongest way possible to an insurance company, judge or jury.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Although the circumstances can make the exact monetary damages vary, generally you may be able to recover the following economic and noneconomic damages:
- Any medical expenses leading to the death
- Any lost wages or future earnings
- Funeral and burial expenses, or similar proceedings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of future financial support
Although no amount of money can compensate for your loss, it can provide a sense of justice, closure and a cushion to offset any future financial worries.
Negotiating a Settlement for a Fatal Accident
Despite the gravity of your loss, an insurance company or defense attorney may use different tactics to devalue your claim and save money on your payout. The insurer’s main goal is to protect its bottom line and profit its investors.
During the process, the defendant or his or her insurer may try to offer an inadequate amount or wrongfully deny your claim. You need an experienced and aggressive attorney to help you negotiate a fair settlement.
An experienced wrongful death attorney from The Ryan Law Group can interact and negotiate with an insurance company on your family’s behalf. We will take care of negotiations for you so you can focus on grieving with your family.
Our attorneys will properly evaluate your claim and fight for a fair and full amount for the death of your loved one. If the insurance company refuses to be fair, we can represent you at trial in Los Angeles County instead. Our lawyers will do everything possible to ensure your voice is heard and your family has what it needs during this difficult time.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a California Wrongful Death Claim?
Like similar personal injury claims, states have a time limit on the period in which you may file a valid claim—known as the statute of limitations. California law gives you two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim (California Civil Code 335.1) . If a suit is not filed before the statute of limitation expires, you will lose your legal right to seek any form of monetary compensation.
However, this is not so for a medical malpractice case, or where the negligent party is a government official. When that is the case, it is advisable for you (or the person who can legally file a claim) to seek the services of a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney right away.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in LA?
In all wrongful death claims, it is highly recommended to seek the services of an experienced attorney. Most who tragically lose one of their loved ones to a sudden accident often do not have the physical, emotional, and mental capacity to begin litigation for a wrongful death claim. An attorney can help by handling all the legal legwork and formalities while you can focus on grieving, healing, and recovery.
Additionally, wrongful death claims may be difficult to win, due to the gravity of the circumstances. Many liable parties do not want to admit that they are responsible for the death of another person, and as such will fight to prevent a claim from being resolved. Additionally, the evidence required to find someone liable for wrongful death must be definitive, thorough, and exhaustive. Retaining an attorney who is aggressive in litigation and understands how to comprehensively collect evidence and data for your case can significantly increase your chances at maximum compensation.
At The Ryan Law Group in Los Angeles, our passionate personal injury attorneys are committed to providing the help and support you need in this difficult time. We are aggressive in our approach, in the hopes that we can secure the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If a family member has suffered a wrongful death in, please contact us immediately for assistance. We understand that this is not an easy time for you, and we want to make sure that you are given the support necessary. Schedule a free consultation with us today and see how we can help. You may call our office at (310) 321-4800 or fill out our online contact form.