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The Elements of A Successful California Wrongful Death Claim


How To Successfully Pursue A California Wrongful Death Claim

Losing a loved one will always be a painful and challenging experience, regardless of the circumstances. But when a loved one is lost because of an avoidable accident due to someone’s negligence, it can only make the recovery process that much more difficult. Filing a wrongful death claim can help bring surviving family members and loved ones both closure and fair compensation after their loss.

Wrongful death claims in California are governed by the Code of Civil Procedure, which entitles the survivor(s) of a wrongfully killed person (a decedent) to sue for damages after a death caused by someone’s negligence. A wrongful claim suit is not filed on behalf of the decedent. It is for the benefit of the survivor(s), and it is meant to compensate them for the loss that they have suffered.

Being entitled to sue and succeeding in a wrongful death lawsuit are two different propositions. That is why it is crucial to consult with a qualified Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our team of skilled and compassionate wrongful death lawyers empathize with your loss. We are committed wrongful death attorneys with decades of experience in successfully handling wrongful death claims. We understand the challenges you may be facing, and we will fight to secure all the compensation you are entitled to so that you can move forward with your life.

Wrongful Death Claims In California

Wrongful death claims can be caused by various circumstances. A wrongful death claim can only be filed when a person is killed because of the negligence or intentional misconduct by another person or entity.

Some instances where a wrongful death claim can be filed:

  • Automobile Accidents.
  • Motorcycle Accident.
  • Truck Accidents.
  • Falls.
  • Industrial Accidents.
  • Medical Malpractice.
  • Nursing Home and Assisted Living Abuse and Neglect.
  • Intentional Violence, such as a Shooting or a Stabbing.
  • Defective Products.
  • Occupational Exposure and Hazards.
  • Fatal Accidents from Supervised Activities, Including Day Care and Field Trips.

These are only a few examples. In any of those situations, as a survivor of the decedent, you would be entitled to file a wrongful death claim. Individuals who are entitled to sue for wrongful death are:

  • The Surviving Spouse.
  • Children of The Decedent.
  • Dependent Minors.
  • The Putative Spouse.
  • Children of the Putative Spouse.
  • Step Children of the Decedent.
  • Parents of the Decedent.
  • Anyone Entitled to the Property of the Decedent by Intestate Succession.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also be entitled to file a survival action on behalf of the estate of the decedent. A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney at our firm will be able to explain whether your case meets the criteria for a survival action.

What Elements Must Be Proven In A Wrongful Death Suit?

Death must have occurred: Proving death is straightforward in most cases, but in rare cases it can become quite complicated. There are situations where it is not clear whether a death has occurred. For instance, if a plane was carrying a loved one across the Atlantic Ocean and goes missing, there could be a question mark looming over the death. Until the destroyed pieces of the plane are recovered, or until a body is found, it can be almost impossible to tell whether a death has actually occurred.

Death must have been caused by a wrongful act: Once a death is confirmed, it must be shown that an intentional, reckless or negligent act was the cause. It is necessary to show a duty of care existed, that there was a breach of duty of care, and that the death was caused by this breach.

  • Duty of Care: When a person owes another a duty of care, it means that they must not do anything to harm another. For example, a motorist owes every motorist on the road a duty to drive carefully.
  • Breach of Duty: Once a duty of care has been established, it must be shown that the duty was breached. For instance, a store has a duty to provide a safe premises for its customers.  If the store’s premises become unsafe because of store’s negligence, that counts as a breach of the store’s duty to maintain a safe premises.
  • Causation: It is not enough to show that a duty of care was breached. It must also be proven that the breach was the direct cause of death. If a decedent was hit and killed by a drunk driver, that is a clear case of causation.

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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