J&Y Law Firm discusses five things you didn't know about wrongful death actions.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Wrongful Death Actions in California

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Losing a family member can be difficult under normal circumstances. However, when the death is sudden and caused by a preventable act, the family can suffer additional pain and suffering. A California wrongful death attorney helps family members seek compensation for the loss of a loved one by filing a wrongful death claim. Below are some facts about wrongful death actions in California that you might not know. 

Five FAQs About Wrongful Death Claims in California

1. Criminal Charges are Not Necessary

A person does not need to be convicted of a crime to be liable for damages in a wrongful death case. Likewise, a person might be found innocent of criminal charges, but still be found liable for civil damages for wrongful death. Civil claims and criminal claims have different legal requirements and are two separate claims under California law.

2. Statute of Limitations Might Be Different for Some Wrongful Death Claims

In many situations, wrongful death claims in California must be filed within two years of the date of the death. However, the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim may be shorter or longer, depending on the specific facts of the case. 

For example, if the death involves medical malpractice, California law allows three years from the date of injury to file a claim. A family could have additional time to file a claim if the cause of the death was not immediately known or discoverable. On the other hand, wrongful death claims involving a government entity or government employ must be filed within six months of the date of death. 

Because the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim in California can vary, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one’s death to discuss your case.

3. Only Certain People May File a Wrongful Death Claim

California law designates who has the first right to file a wrongful death claim. Surviving spouses typically have the first right to file a wrongful death action followed by surviving children or grandchildren. Parents, siblings, and other family members who are entitled to inherit from the deceased or who were financially dependent upon the deceased may file a wrongful death action if the person did not have a spouse or children.

4. An Estate May Bring an Action for Wrongful Death

An estate may file a survival action to claim compensation for certain damages. The estate may claim compensation for medical expenses incurred from the date of injury to the time of the person’s death. The estate may also seek compensation for the deceased person’s pain and suffering. In some cases, the estate might receive punitive damages for conduct that was grossly negligent or intentional.

5. Wrongful Death Does Not Need to be an Intentional Act

Wrongful death claims may arise from accidental injuries, such as car accidents and falls. The person or party causing the incident that results in death did not need to act intentionally or willfully. You only need to prove that the person’s actions or inactions led to the circumstances that caused your loved one’s death.

Contact a California Wrongful Death Attorney for More Information

Wrongful death claims can be complicated. It helps to have the advice, guidance, and support of an experienced California wrongful death attorney. Your attorney can evaluate your claim and advise you of your options for seeking justice for your family and your loved one. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.