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Many types of situations can lead to the wrongful death of a loved one. However, wrongful death is almost always caused by either the action or inaction of an individual who had a legal duty to act with care. Because of the tragic nature that is common to all wrongful death situations, there are laws in place to ensure that surviving family members of the deceased can seek justice and compensation.

California law states that certain individuals, such as surviving spouses/valid domestic partners and children, can bring a wrongful death claim if their loved one was killed due to the negligence of another person, group, or other types of entity. Wrongful death claims in Bakersfield, California are governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. This statute entitles the survivor(s) of a wrongfully killed person the right to sue for the recovery of damages after a death caused by negligence. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact our Bakersfield wrongful death attorneys 24/7 at (661) 347-3610 or feel free to email us at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we are always here to answer any questions you may have about wrongful death claims and damages you may be entitled to.

Examples Of Wrongful Death Acts

A few common examples of wrongful acts/deaths include:

  • Car accidents, including DUI’s
  • Murder/manslaughter
  • Elder abuse and neglect
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Slip and falls
  • Drowning  
  • Police negligence
  • Assault and battery
  • Medical malpractice
How Do I Prove A Wrongful Death Claim?
  • Death must have occurred 

Proving death is not difficult in most circumstances. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are rare cases when it can become a challenge, especially when it is not clear whether the individual actually died. 

For example, what if a plane that was carrying a loved one goes missing? Unless the pieces of the plane are recovered, or until a body is found, it can become impossible to determine whether a death actually occurred.

  1. Death must have been caused by a wrongful act

It must be proven that an intentional, reckless or negligent act was the cause of a loved one’s death. It is also necessary to show that a duty of care existed when the death occurred, that a duty of care was breached, and that the death was caused by this breach. Below is a more detailed explanation of what these terms mean. 

  • Duty of Care: When a person owes someone a duty of care, it means that they must not do anything to harm them. For example, a property owner has a duty of care to their visitors to provide safe conditions on their premises. A bus driver must drive safely and obey all traffic laws and regulations. And product manufacturers have a duty to design and produce items that are safe to use. 
  • Breach of Duty: It must also be proven that a duty of care was breached. For example, a bank has a duty to provide adequate security for its customers. If the bank becomes unsafe due to negligence and someone is killed as a result, the surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim for the recovery of damages.   
  • Causation: Finally, it must also be proven that the breach was the direct cause of death. If, for example, the deceased was killed by a drunk driver, that is a clear case of causation.
An Overview Of Damages In A Wrongful Death Claim

How does a court determine how much surviving family members must be compensated for? The period of time during which damages are recoverable is typically the shorter of:

  • The decedent’s life expectancy when the wrongful act took place
  • The life expectancy of the plaintiff when the wrongful act took place
Factors such as lifestyle, health, and job occupation will be taken into consideration by the court. Economic damages may include:
  1. Financial support the decedent would have contributed to his or her family throughout their lifetimes.
  2. Loss of benefits or gifts the surviving family members would have received if the deceased did not lose his or her life.
  3. Funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
  1. Affection
  2. Sexual Relations
  3. Companionship
  4. Protection
  5. Moral Support
  6. Training and Guidance
Statutes Of Limitation

There are strict time limits to file a wrongful death claim. There are different time limits depending on the circumstances. In most cases, the limitation period runs for 2 years from the date of death. If the cause of death was not apparent, the limitation period starts from the date the cause of death was first discovered.

Death Caused by Public Entities: The limitation period here is shorter. You only have 6 months from the date of death to file a notice of your wrongful death claim.  Once the public entity rejects your claim, you have only 6 months from the date of the rejection to file a lawsuit.  

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Always Here To Help

If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. A Bakersfield wrongful death attorney at our firm can recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered. Call us today at (661) 347-3610 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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