Your Basic Guide to Wrongful Death in California

Do you suspect a person’s death is due to someone else’s negligence? One of the best steps that you can take is to talk to a wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles. You can better understand the discussion if you also have at least basic knowledge about the subject. This essential guide can help.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a legal action against a defendant accused of being negligent, which led to the demise of a person. The term is often confused with survival action. They have significant differences. A wrongful death lawsuit allows the estate to claim damages due to the passing of an individual. In a survival action, the court recognizes the possible suffering and financial losses suffered by the victim and their family. Just because someone can be held responsible doesn’t mean it’s already a wrongful death. For example, if there’s felony involved, a person may not file for compensation.

When Should You File a Wrongful Death?

In California, you have within two years to file wrongful death. If the defendant is the state or a government agency, it is only within six months. It’s possible to receive some leeway if you didn’t know the connection between the death and the fault within those periods.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death?

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The law has an extensive list of people who can sue. Only these individuals can do it, but there will always be an exception to the rule. A wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles can help you identify the best person to bring the case.

In general, it’s the person who benefited from the decedent financially. Thus, the plaintiff can be the spouse, children, and even stepchildren. A child who is over 18 years old may also be a party if they can prove the decedent’s loss affected their economic well-being.

How Many Wrongful Death Lawsuits Can You File?

There’s only one wrongful death lawsuit even if there might be multiple plaintiffs involved. The attorney will join all these cases. However, it’s a different story when there’s a survival action. If you are claiming for one as well, you need to file lawsuits for it and wrongful death. It’s not uncommon, though, for the court to try them together.

What Is the Cap for Non-economic Damages?

A person can claim three types of damages in the wrongful death lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive.

The economic damages refer to an objective or traceable financial compensation. These can include medical or hospital bills, nursing care, and funeral costs.

The non-economic damages are subjective, and thus, the amount can be arbitrary. These refer to the “cost” of emotional pain and suffering, anxiety, and sleepless nights. Because it can be subject to abuse, the law places a cap on it. The amount depends on the action. For medical malpractice, it is up to $250,000.

Punitive damages are the financial compensation associated with the punishment. It is the amount that will hopefully deter the defendant or any other person from committing the same mistake.

Wrongful death compensation can relieve most of the financial pressure due to the loss of a loved one. However, you need to get it right, and you can do that only when you know the law and work with an expert.

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