California Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions
Experienced lawyers in Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Ventura help families get answers
The death of a loved one is never easy, particularly if someone else’s negligence may be to blame. Family members often have many unanswered questions about what to do next. At Crane Flores, LLP, our knowledgeable and compassionate wrongful death attorneys are pleased to answer your questions and walk you through the legal process. For your benefit, we have assembled a list of frequently asked questions and answers:
- What is a “wrongful” death?
- What is a survival action?
- Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
- What types of damages are available in a wrongful death claim?
- When is the deadline to file a claim?
Contact a lawyer in Santa Barbara, Oxnard or Ventura about your wrongful death case today
Wrongful death cases can be complicated. At Crane Flores, LLP, our lawyers have more than five decades of combined legal experience. We are sensitive to the needs of families dealing with loss, and we provide all clients with the personal attention they deserve. Call our offices today at 805.568.5927 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
A death is “wrongful” if the person dies because of the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity (company, government agency, organization, etc.). Wrongful death cases can arise from a range of circumstances, including motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents, and birth injuries.
A survival action “survives” the death of the accident victim and must be filed by a personal representative of the victim’s estate. The representative is authorized to pursue damages for any harm suffered by the victim up to the moment of death. This may include medical expenses, lost wages and other financial losses. If the defendant’s conduct was egregious, punitive damages may also be recovered. The rationale behind a survival action is that the responsible party should not avoid liability simply because the victim died. Any compensation is awarded to the victim’s estate.
Only certain people may bring a wrongful death claim. Under California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 377.60, the victim’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children or dependent stepchildren are first in line to assert an action. However, if these family members do not exist, claimants may include those who would be entitled to inherit the victim’s estate under California’s laws of intestate succession, including parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents. A single wrongful death action must be brought on behalf of all potential beneficiaries, and the court divides any damages award accordingly.
Depending on their relationship to the victim, loved ones may recover damages for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, parental care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance or education. Economic damages may include reimbursement for financial support that the accident victim would have been expected to provide through future work earnings or benefits.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death action is two years. While this may seem like a long time, it is important to consult with experienced wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible. It is important to order an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death and to take steps to preserve other critical evidence.