Our Santa Rosa Personal Injury Attorney Answers Your Questions

In California, surviving family members may have legal options to pursue compensation if they lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party.

Common reasons to file a wrongful death lawsuit include medical malpractice, car accidents, assaults, dangerous properties, defective products and work accidents. Surviving family members may be able to recover compensation for damages caused by the death of a loved one. However, there are certain rules in California that may bar a person from being able to file a lawsuit.

Below, our Santa Rosa personal injury attorney answers common questions about wrongful death cases.

What Is the California Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

You generally have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. Given the complexity of California wrongful death laws, you should contact our Santa Rosa wrongful death lawyer to determine if it is possible to toll the statute of limitations.

There are also different rules for medical malpractice claims. For a medical malpractice claim involving a wrongful death, you generally have three years from the date of the death to file a lawsuit. Additionally, there is much less time to file a lawsuit against a public (government) entity.

There are additional requirements for filing a civil lawsuit against a public entity. You should not wait to contact our attorney if your claim involves a local or state entity.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

Only certain people can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. You would need to be one of the following parties to file a lawsuit:

  • The surviving spouse
  • A child of the decedent (deceased person)
  • A surviving domestic partner
  • Minor stepchildren who relied on the decedent 50 percent or more for financial support

There are also cases where minor grandchildren can file a lawsuit. This may be possible if the parents are also dead. If a person is entitled to the decedent’s estate, he or she may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Compensation Is Available for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

There are two types of compensatory damages in wrongful death lawsuits; economic damages and noneconomic damages. The first type covers tangible things like medical bills, lost income, and funeral expenses. Noneconomic damages are difficult to quantify, and may cover loss of companionship, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.

The amount of compensation you can recover from a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the circumstances. For instance, if the decedent was your spouse, then the amount of compensation may depend upon his or her level of education, occupation and future earning potential. These are only a few possible examples that could factor into the case. The degree of fault may also affect a settlement or verdict.

Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?

You may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party you believe is responsible for your family member’s death. Whether you are successful depends on the circumstances. You would need to demonstrate that the other party’s negligence, recklessness or gross negligence caused your loved one’s death.

Defendants in wrongful death lawsuits are not always individual people. There are cases where you would be able to sue a business entity or even a government agency. For instance, you could potentially sue an auto manufacturer if a vehicle defect caused the death of your loved one. During the 1970s, the explosive Ford Pinto resulted in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

Do You Have More Questions? Contact Our Santa Rosa Wrongful Death Attorney

You can reach out to Flahavan Law Offices for a free consultation if you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California. To schedule a free consultation with our wrongful death attorney, call (707) 833-8614 or use the case review form on our site.