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Beverly Hills Wrongful Death Lawyer

A wrongful death case focuses on more than just legal matters. An unexpected loss caused by negligence can have a great deal of impact on a decedent's surviving family emotionally and financially. It is important for the at fault person or entity to be held liable for their actions, and for those grieving the loss of a loved one to get the justice they deserve.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our Beverly Hills wrongful death lawyers value each of our clients needs and want to make sure that they are all well-taken care of. We will protect your rights, provide legal representation if your case heads to trial, and get you a maximum amount of compensation. We run on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that our services are free until we settle your case.

To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to reach out to our 24/7 legal team by calling (310) 919-5962 or completing our easy contact form.

Man and woman dressed in black, grieving a wrongful death, with rose and picture frame in hand.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death occurs when an individual's passing was caused by a negligent individual or entity. Some factors that may lead to a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • Motor vehicle accident,
  • Premises liability,
  • Product liability,
  • Intentional actions, and
  • Medical malpractice.

The decedent's estate or surviving family members may sue to recover damages. Under such circumstances, it is encouraged to consult with a Beverly Hills wrongful death lawyer for legal assistance.

What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?

If you are planning on suing the liable party for the loss of your loved one, you will need to show the elements of a wrongful death claim, which are listed below:

  • The defendant owed the deceased victim a duty of care,
  • The defendant breached their duty of care,
  • The defendant's negligence caused the victim's death, and
  • You, the plaintiff, endured financial and emotional losses as a result.

Be sure to obtain as much evidence as possible that can help prove liability. Your wrongful death attorney will assess what you present them with to decide what course of action should be taken to ensure you submit a strong claim.

Is Survival Action Similar to Wrongful Death?

Survival action and wrongful death have some similarities, but ultimately serve different purposes. Survival action is when the estate is granted damages that the decedent sustained from when they got injured up until their death. In this case, compensation may include lost wages and pain and suffering.

Unlike wrongful death lawsuits, the estate may recover punitive damages (CCP 377.34).

"In an action or proceeding by a decedent’s personal representative or successor in interest on the decedent’s cause of action, the damages recoverable are limited to the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement." - CCP 377.34 (a)

Punitive damages are awarded in certain cases to punish the defendant for their egregious behavior and to prevent such conduct from occurring again in the future. To receive this type of compensation, the estate will need to show that the defendant exhibited malicious, intentional, or fraudulent behavior towards the victim prior to their passing.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Beverly Hills?

The decedent's estate or surviving family members may sue for a wrongful death in Beverly Hills. Priority will apply to the victim's:

  • Spouse,
  • Children,
  • Putative spouse,
  • Children of the putative spouse,
  • Stepchildren,
  • Parents, and
  • Legal guardians.

If there are no survivors in the list mentioned above, a lawsuit can be submitted by anyone "who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession." (CCP § 377.60)

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in Beverly Hills?

The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim in Beverly Hills will begin on the date of when the victim's death was discovered or should have been discovered. Under California's wrongful death "one action" rule, the surviving family members can only submit one lawsuit against the liable party. This was intended to restrict several claims to be made against the defendant and to ensure a resolution has been made in a timely manner. Failing to pursue legal action prior to the deadline will revoke the right to sue.

However, there are some exceptions that may postpone the time limit for filing a wrongful death claim. For instance, the defendant is a minor, out-of-state, or in prison. Once the reason for the tolling has ended, the statute of limitations will start again.

What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Case?

Damages available in a wrongful death case will vary depending on the circumstances involved. Each lawsuit has its own cause and effect, meaning that the outcome will be different for each plaintiff. Typically, the court may award economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are tangible costs you suffered due to the defendant's negligence. This includes:

  • Medical bills,
  • Funeral expenses,
  • Burial costs, and
  • Loss of financial support.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible losses that cannot be easily measured in monetary terms, such as:

  • Emotional distress,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, and
  • Loss of consortium.

How Are Damages Determined in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Prior to granting damages, certain factors will need to be considered, like the decedent's:

  • Age,
  • Health,
  • Earning capacity,
  • Life expectancy,
  • Intelligence, and
  • The conditions revolving around the estate or surviving family members.

Other additional components that may be focused on are:

  • The potential future earnings the decedent could have made,
  • The decedent's earnings upon passing away, and
  • The decedent's last earnings if they were unemployed before their death.

Get Legal Assistance From Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

Do you believe that a person or entity should hold legal responsibility for the loss of your loved one? You may be entitled to seek compensation. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our Beverly Hills wrongful death attorneys will take a look at your case, identify the liable party, and determine what necessary steps should be taken to ensure we get you the justice and compensation you deserve for your loss.

To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to reach out by calling (310) 919-5962 or filling out our quick contact form. We are available 24/7 to answer phone calls and form submissions.

More Resources for Wrongful Death Cases

Child Wrongful Death Laws in California

Proving a Wrongful Death Case

Suing the Police in a Wrongful Death Case

Compensation for Wrongful Death in California

Wrongful Death Laws in California

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