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Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims In California

When a person loses his or her life because of a preventable accident, the victim’s survivors have the ability to collect damages that ensue by filing a wrongful death claim. Filing a wrongful death claim in California involves following certain legal procedures. If you have lost a loved one as a result of an accident, understanding the legal process can help protect your rights to file a lawsuit.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim and How Can it Help You and Your Family?

In the State of California, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be pursued by those closest to the decedent. Additionally, wrongful death lawsuits can only be filed when the victim has perished as a result of another’s carelessness or negligent action. Unlike other states, California permits the victim’s survivors the opportunity to file the suit directly with the court, rather than a representative of the state. When a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the negligent party will be obligated to pay the victim’s survivors monetary damages.

Wrongful death claims can arise from a variety of accidents, which include the following:

  • Auto accidents
  • Injury or illness caused by a workplace incident
  • Negligent security

By pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim’s family can receive monetary compensation that could cover the following:

  • Victim’s medical expenses before passing,
  • Funeral costs,
  • Burial expenses, and
  • Loss of companionship

California Laws that Govern Wrongful Death Claims

Each state has its own laws with respect to wrongful death claims as well as what type of restitution is available. For instance, under the California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60, only certain individuals can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of a decedent. This involves the following:

  • The victim’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, or
  • Children

Other parties that may be able to pursue a lawsuit include those who may be entitled to the victim’s assets via succession such as parents or siblings along with parties that can demonstrate that they were economically dependent on the decedent.

California’s Statute of Limitations

When pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, one of the most important rules to note is the state’s statute of limitations. California places a very strict deadline for the victims of the decedent to pursue a lawsuit. The most important time constraints to consider in a wrongful death claim involves:

  • Filing a lawsuit should occur within two (2) years of the person’s injury or passing.
  • If the death was the result of a medical malpractice incident, those seeking to file a claim will have up to three (3) years to pursue the claim.
  • When the death is caused by the negligence of a government entity, the survivors will have up to six (6) months to file a claim.

The Importance of Obeying the State’s Statute of Limitations

Those considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit will need to file as soon as possible. Making the mistake of waiting too long to file can result in the court refusing to hear the claim, even if the claim is valid.

If you or someone you know lost a loved one as a result of another’s negligence, consider seeking the legal advice of an experienced wrongful death attorney. Filing a lawsuit against the negligent party can help cover the costs following a person’s passing; obtaining the support of a qualified attorney can help.

The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine, & Knox, LLP. have many years of experience in handling wrongful death cases in California. The firm is dedicated to preserving the rights of those who have lost a loved one. Seek the legal support of a skilled wrongful death attorney today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.