Orange County Wrongful Death Attorneys
The loss of a loved one is always extremely difficult, especially when caused by negligent actions of another party.
Helping Grieving Families for Over Forty Years
During our 40-plus years in practice, we at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie have stood beside many families as they mourned the loss of a loved one while facing an uncertain future. We consider it our duty to get Southern California families just compensation for a wrongful death, so that they can concentrate on healing and moving on. If you feel the loss of your loved one was the result of another party’s negligence, you need to consult an experienced wrongful death attorney. To find out more, call our Newport Beach offices for a free case evaluation at (949) 752-7474.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
A number of people are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in our state. According to §377.60 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, those people include the:
- Deceased person’s spouse.
- Deceased person’s domestic partner.
- Deceased person’s children.
If none of the above parties exist, or choose not to file a wrongful death claim, anyone who could potentially inherit property from the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This may include the following:
- The deceased person’s parents.
- The deceased person’s immediate siblings.
- Named, nonrelated dependents of the deceased.
- The deceased’s putative (generally considered or reputed to be) spouse and stepchildren, if they can show they were financially dependent on the deceased.
Damages That Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
While no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, certain types of financial compensation can help secure the future of surviving family members. Damages that can be sought for a wrongful death include:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical bills incurred in attempts to save the deceased.
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death.
- Loss of future income.
- Loss of future benefits, such as retirement and medical benefits.
- Loss of love, affection, sexual relations, companionship, guidance, etc.
- Loss of household services the deceased performed, such as childcare, vehicle and property maintenance, bookkeeping, etc.
- Punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
In most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the death, or the date when the cause of death was discovered. However, there are several exceptions. If the cause of death involves a public agency, such as a collision with a police car, you only have six months within which to file the claim. In the case of a minor who’s lost a parent, the minor has two years from the date of their 18th birthday to file the claim. In cases where medical malpractice is involved, the statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of death, or one year from the date the cause of death should have been discovered. Special rules may apply in cases involving medical malpractice or product liability, if the cause of the death is only discovered at a later date. An example would be a medical procedure that is later determined to be fatal, or an ingredient in a product that is later found to cause cancer.
Because the statute of limitations in California can fluctuate so widely, it is important to speak to a local Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Exceptions to a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim cannot be made in cases of justifiable homicide. A wrongful death claim cannot be made for an unborn child in California, though it is possible in other states. However, California is one of the few states where family members of a suicide victim CAN file a wrongful death claim if another party’s negligence or actions contributed to the death. Examples of such would be: cases where a psychiatrist or therapist should have seen signs of potential suicide and did not take action, or cases where bullying was involved.
While we at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie sincerely hope you never need our services, rest assured we will be there for you if you do. Just call our Newport Beach office for a free consultation by dialing (949) 752-7474.
DISCLAIMER. The information on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should formally consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Please be advised, however, contacting us, submitting a case to us, and/or discussing your case with us does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.