What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

family members holding hands

Did You Lose a Loved One in an Accident?

Losing a loved one in an accident is a devastating experience. After a loved one’s death, family members may deal with sudden financial and emotional losses and not know how to move forward. In cases where someone’s negligence or intentional actions result in the death of another person, certain family members can seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death suit allows surviving family members to hold the responsible party accountable and obtain compensation for their loss. A California wrongful death attorney can protect your rights and help you pursue a wrongful death claim to recover financial compensation.


What is Wrongful Death?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 224,935 unintentional deaths each year in the United States. Wrongful death occurs when an individual’s death is caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another individual or entity. These kinds of fatal accidents can arise from various situations, including motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, or workplace accidents. Wrongful death lawsuits serve as a way for the surviving family members to pursue legal action for the emotional and financial hardships resulting from the loss of their loved one.


Common Types of Wrongful Death Suits

Wrongful death cases can arise from a wide range of incidents, including but not limited to:


Recover Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family members may be eligible to recover economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are objective financial losses. These kinds of damages are typically easy to calculate with receipts and invoices. Economic damages in a personal injury claim can include:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased person’s injury or illness
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support and future earnings
  • Household services

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more subjective and difficult to calculate without an experienced wrongful death attorney. These kinds of losses can include:

  • Loss of companionship, love, guidance, and emotional support
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

wrongful death suit papers

In California, certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, the following parties have the legal standing to bring wrongful death action:

  • Immediate family members, including spouses, children, and parents
  • Legal dependents living in the decedent’s household
  • Financial dependents, like registered domestic partners or putative spouses
  • A personal representative of the decedent’s estate

It’s essential to consult with a California wrongful death attorney to determine your eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit.


What Do You Need to Prove to Win a Wrongful Death Claim?

In California, proving a wrongful death claim requires demonstrating the following 4 key elements:

Duty of Care

The plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person.

Breach of Duty

The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty through negligence or intentional misconduct.


The plaintiff must prove a direct link between the defendant’s actions and the death of the victim.


The plaintiff must provide evidence of the financial and emotional losses suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the death. Damages may include funeral expenses, burial costs, medical bills, loss of future income, and pain and suffering.

A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong wrongful death case and prove the other party’s liability. Wrongful death lawyers can help you gather compelling evidence and expert testimonies to build a strong case.


How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

When a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the compensation is typically paid out through a settlement or court award.

Wrongful death settlement amounts may be allocated among different family members based on their financial losses and relationship with the deceased. In some cases, the compensation is structured, providing periodic payments over a specified period rather than a lump sum.

The attorney’s fees and legal expenses are usually deducted from the wrongful death settlement before the remaining amount is distributed to the family members.


How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Your Claim

wrongful death lawyer and client going over paperwork

Navigating a wrongful death lawsuit can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the emotional aftermath of a family member’s death. A skilled wrongful death lawyer will:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and establish liability.
  • Determine the full extent of the financial and emotional losses suffered by the family to seek appropriate compensation.
  • Prove wrongful death and hold the at-fault person liable.
  • Handle communications and negotiations with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement.
  • Represent the family in court, presenting the case and advocating for their rights before a judge and jury.
  • Provide expert legal advice and guidance throughout the entire legal process, addressing concerns and answering questions.

Having a compassionate and experienced attorney by your side can significantly improve the chances of a successful outcome in a wrongful death claim.


The Statute of Limitations in California for Wrongful Death Claims

In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is generally two years from the date of the deceased person’s death. However, there are exceptions and nuances in specific situations. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney promptly after the incident to understand the applicable deadlines and ensure the wrongful death claim is filed on time.


Contact Compassionate Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or intentional act of another party, it’s essential to seek legal help promptly. Out compassionate wrongful death lawyers understand the emotional and financial challenges you face and can provide the support and legal advocacy you need to win your case. 

At Empire Accident Attorneys, we maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated legal team who can guide you through the entire claims process. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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