Civil lawsuits give people the opportunity to demand justice when they have been wronged or suffered damages due to another party’s misconduct or negligence. When you lose a cherished family member, you may be ready to fight to ensure the liable party is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Fortunately, California’s wrongful death laws give you an opportunity to make them pay.
However, before you can move forward with your wrongful death lawsuit, you need to understand the laws affecting your case and prepare accordingly. Your Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can review the evidence at hand and thoroughly investigate to establish liability and explore your options further. We need to start working on your case as soon as possible.
The statute of limitations has already started counting down. You only have a limited amount of time to file your claim, and every wrongful death lawsuit is different. Here are some of the most important details you need to know about California wrongful death and personal injury laws and the statute of limitations in wrongful death claims.
California Wrongful Death Claims
According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, wrongful death claims can be filed when one party is responsible for causing the death of another due to a wrongful act. Only certain parties have the authority to file the claim. Some examples of incidents and events that warrant a wrongful death action include:
- Assault and battery
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Truck accidents
- Manslaughter or murder
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Rideshare assault
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Motorcycle accidents
If your loved one was killed in another way, do not feel discouraged. A personal injury attorney may be able to help your family fight for the justice your loved one deserves. It is crucial to find out whether you have grounds for a claim before the statute of limitations expires.
The Authority to Bring Wrongful Death Claims
Only certain parties have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. According to the law, certain family members or personal representatives can move forward with a wrongful death action. These parties could include:
- The decedent’s executor
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s adult children
- The decedent’s surviving domestic partner
- The decedent’s grandchildren
- Anyone entitled to the decedent’s estate according to intestate succession laws in CA
It is important to note that California has a “one action rule“. Here, all beneficiaries and heirs must come together to file a single wrongful death claim. However, minor heirs can file a wrongful death action once they become of legal age if they were not included in the initial wrongful death action.
What Is a Survival Action?
A survival action is different from a wrongful death lawsuit. Survival actions are meant to compensate the deceased for their damages and are brought forward by the decedent’s estate. Punitive damages are only possible in survival actions and you will have up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a survival claim in civil court.
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How Long You Have to File Your CA Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California is two years. Your lawsuit must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death, otherwise, the court system will refuse to hear your case. However, there are certain exceptions and extenuating circumstances that could reduce or extend the amount of time you have to file your claim.
The Discovery Rule
If surviving family members do not discover the decedent’s death until days, weeks, months, or even years after their passing, the statute of limitations would not expire two years from the decedent’s death. Instead, it would expire two years from the date the surviving family discovered the decedent’s death. This ensures the family has enough time to take action.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Caused by the Government
If a government agency or municipality is at fault for your loved one’s death, the statute of limitations may be much shorter. Under the law, you will have up to six months from the decedent’s death to file suit. Some examples could include motor vehicle accidents involving government-owned vehicles or incidents at public schools.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations for Minors Who Lost a Parent
When a minor child loses a parent, they cannot file a wrongful death claim until they reach the legal age of 18. The statute of limitations would start counting down the day the child turns 18 years old and expire two years later. However, this is only true if the minor was not included in an initial wrongful death action filed by other family members who had the authority to file a wrongful death claim.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Caused by Medical Negligence
Medical malpractice and negligence are some of the top causes of wrongful death. According to California law, surviving family members have up to one year from the discovery day to file a claim against a healthcare provider or three years from the date of the decedent’s death. Surviving family members may also have the authority to pursue a wrongful death action against the hospital or healthcare facility that shares liability for the decedent’s death.
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Get Help from a Dedicated and Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney Today
The statute of limitations could have an adverse impact on the outcome of your case if your claim is not filed in time. You do not want to miss out on an opportunity to recover the compensation your family is entitled to. The at-fault party should pay.
Do not put your settlement at risk by failing to get started on your claim quickly enough. The statute of limitations deadline is not always clear. Get the clarity you need when you reach out to a top-rated California wrongful death attorney at Venerable Injury Law.
Our firm currently offers free, no-obligation consultations to families in Burbank, Los Angeles, Alhambra, Glendale, Long Beach, Monterey Park, and surrounding communities. Are you ready to advocate for your deceased relative? Complete our online contact form or call us to get started on your wrongful death claim as soon as today.
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