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Making Sense of California Wrongful Death Statutes


How To Make Sense Of California Wrongful Death Statutes?

There are many situations that may lead to a wrongful death. In the majority of these instances though, a wrongful death is typically caused by the action or inaction of a person who had a legal duty to act with care. Because of the tragic nature inherent in many wrongful death situations, wrongful death statutes are intended to ensure that survivors of the deceased have a means of obtaining justice and compensation for their losses.

Under California law, a person is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim if their loved one was killed due to the fault of another person. If your spouse, family member, or loved one was killed because of someone’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation under the law. It can be difficult to understand wrongful death law statutes and how they apply to your specific situation, but a qualified Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can explain your rights.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our team of skilled and compassionate Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers has years of experience successfully handling wrongful death claims. We empathize with the challenges you may be facing. While we cannot turn back the clock and bring your loved one back, we will fight to secure all the compensation you are entitled to so that you can move forward with your life.

Wrongful Death Statistics In California

There are over 160,000 unintentional accidental deaths every year in the United States. This figure includes more than 38,000 poisonings, over 30,000 falls, and 33,000 plus motor vehicle accidents. Interestingly, a great number of these fatalities were caused by the negligent act of others, which became the basis for wrongful death claims.   

Fortunately, California provides a clear path for family members to file a wrongful death suit to claim justice and damages on behalf of their loved ones.

What Are California’s Wrongful Death Statutes?

The Code of Civil Procedure governs California wrongful death statutes. It provides protections for relatives or representatives of a person that was killed by the wrongful act of another. A person that was wrongfully killed by the act or negligence of another person is referred to under the Code of Civil Procedure as a decedent.

Not just anybody can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a decedent. In order to file a lawsuit, you have to be amongst those listed in the Code. These individuals include:

  1. The Surviving Spouse.
  2. Children of The Decedent.
  3. Dependent Minors.
  4. The Putative Spouse.
  5. Children of the Putative Spouse.
  6. Step Children of the Decedent.
  7. Parents of the Decedent.
  8. Anyone Entitled to the Property of the Decedent by Intestate Succession.

What Rights Are Available Under Wrongful Death Statutes?

Any person mentioned in the Code of Civil Procedure can sue for the wrongful death of their loved one. It will be necessary to show that the death was caused by the action or neglect of another person or entity.  

There are many situations in which a wrongful death claim may be raised. These could include fatal motor vehicle accidents, medical negligence resulting in death, or fatal slip and fall incidents.

Once you prove that the other person was at fault for your loved one’s death, you are entitled to compensation. It is important to note that fault does not have to lie with an individual. A company, organization or government entity can all be sued if they caused the death of a loved one.

Statutes Of Limitation In A Wrongful Death Claim

Under the law, there are time limits to file a wrongful death claim. If you do not make a claim within that time period, you will be barred from filing at any future time. This is known as the limitation period, and it generally starts to run on the day your loved one died.

There are different time limits depending on the circumstances:

  • General Rule: In most cases, the limitation period runs for 2 years from the date of death. If the cause of death was not readily apparent, the limitation period starts to run from the date that the cause of death was discovered. This is known as the discovery rule.
  • Death Caused by Public Entities: The limitation period here is much shorter. You only have 6 months from the date of death to file a notice of yoru wrongful death claim.  And after the public entity rejects your claim, you have only 6 months from the date of the rejection to file a lawsuit.

Contact us to find out how we can help

If you have lost a loved one because of someone’s negligence, a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.



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