Los Angeles County recorded over 88,000 fatalities and injuries in 2019, with speeding being the leading cause of fatal traffic accidents, per the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)’s most recent data. Still, automobile accidents are just one main cause of wrongful death. Every year, families lose loved ones due to negligence, whether the accident involves a defective product, medical malpractice, or intentional wrongdoing.
If you lost a loved one in an accident that could have been prevented, you may qualify to file a wrongful death action or lawsuit in California and demand compensation from a liable party. A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney from KJT Law Group can organize your case and lead an investigation to gather evidence on your behalf. We offer the first consultation free of charge to discuss your case and potential legal options.
What Is ‘Wrongful Death’?
Wrongful death occurs when an individual loses their life because of negligence. Plaintiffs who file wrongful death actions on behalf of their late loved ones must establish key elements in their case argument, namely:
- The liable party (the defendant) had a duty of care to keep the decedent (the deceased individual) safe from harm. For example, drivers have a duty of care to abide by traffic rules to keep the roads safe for all users.
- The liable party knowingly or negligently breached their duty of care through their actions or inactions. For example, a construction company that does not block off a worksite from civilians breaches its duty to warn people about potential hazards that could cause them harm.
- The liable party’s breach caused an accident that led to the decedent’s injuries. For example, if the construction company fails to put up construction signs to warn pedestrians about potential overhead debris falling, this breach can lead to a pedestrian getting a concussion from falling construction materials.
- The victim died from their injuries, leaving the surviving family to handle financial setbacks and other immediate concerns their loved one’s untimely death caused.
One of our wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles can investigate your case further to determine which party or parties may be held liable for your loved one’s death. If multiple liable parties exist, your lawyer may suggest filing more than one legal action to increase your chances of recovering compensation.
Are Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases the Same?
Personal injury and wrongful death cases are similar in that both types of cases deal with negligence and damages. However, key differences between them include:
- In personal injury cases, the person who suffered the injury files the claim or lawsuit.
- In wrongful death cases, the representative of the deceased individual files the legal action since the decedent cannot pursue compensation. Representatives can be appointed legal representatives or the decedent’s surviving family member.
An individual may file a personal injury claim and not survive their injuries, in which case, one of their surviving family members or a personal representative may file a wrongful death case to continue the case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in California?
Per the California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60, the following individuals qualify to file a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, including the putative spouse of a divorce
- The decedent’s surviving child(ren), including adopted children
- The decedent’s surviving parents, including adoptive parents
- A personal representative appointed by the decedent or the state if no other qualifying individuals are present
If you are unsure whether you qualify to file a legal action on behalf of your loved one, one of our team members can discuss the statutory requirements of your case with you during a free case review. Should you qualify, we can assign a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer from our team to your case and file for compensation right away.
What Kind of Damages Can You Receive in a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Case?
Most damages in wrongful death cases fall into two categories: economic (financial) and non-economic (non-financial) damages. Our legal team will go over the damages you faced as a result of your loved one’s death and calculate an approximate financial value for your case.
In criminal cases, such as wrongful death cases involving violent crimes or other intentionally malicious acts, juries may award plaintiffs punitive damages to punish the defendant and discourage further negligent actions. However, punitive damages are not as common as the following types of damages:
Economic damages—also referred to as “general damages”—encompass all financial-related damages, ranging from debts to small expenses. Common examples of economic damages include:
- Costs for funeral arrangements, including costs for burial or cremation services
- Medical debts the decedent left behind that are related to their cause of death (e.g., hospital stay costs, emergency room care, ambulance rides, and surgeries)
- Loss of financial income from the decedent based on their average weekly earnings or their previous year’s tax records
- Loss of inheritance, such as losing a property the decedent owned to cover leftover expenses
- Costs related to maintaining a good quality of life for the decedent before they died, such as domestic care costs, cooking costs, and childcare costs
You will likely have to present financial documents to prove the value of each loss you list. These documents may include receipts, bill statements, bank statements, and tax documents.
Non-economic damages are not based on monetary expenses or losses, so they encompass all other physical, emotional, and mental losses. These damages initially are subjective; however, the court does detail how to estimate their value based on the severity of the plaintiff’s financial damages.
Common examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia
- Chronic pain and inflammation the decedent experienced
- Permanent disability that led to the decedent’s death
You may qualify for other damages not mentioned in this article based on what you or your loved one suffered. Our legal team is transparent in making realistic calculations for our clients’ damages, so we can weigh in on how many damages you might be able to demand compensation for.
When employees lose their lives as a result of work-related accidents, their surviving families may qualify to file workers’ compensation claims with the state of California. Workers’ compensation benefits for surviving families may include:
- Income compensation based on the decedent’s average weekly earnings, and up to 66 and 2/3 of those wages
- Medical expenses
- Disability benefits up until the decedent’s death
We can assign a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles from our team who handles workers’ compensation cases to represent you.
Plaintiffs Must File Their Wrongful Death Cases by California’s Deadline
Plaintiffs must submit their wrongful death cases within two years of the victim’s death, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1.
Failure to comply with the statutory deadline may result in your case getting dismissed, as the defendant would have grounds to request a case dismissal for your tardiness. Rather than risk missing your case deadline, our legal team may advise filing early as we gather evidence and other legal materials for your case.
Our Legal Team Has Won Multimillion-Dollar Awards for Our Clients
At KJT Law Group, our attorneys have been fighting for victims’ rights since 2014, recovering multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients. One of our highest-earning cases involved a $16 million-dollar verdict for a surviving family who required various surgeries after they were injured in an automobile accident.
With your case, we aim to factor every detail and provide thorough legal work to build your case. Our services include:
- Investigating your case to gather evidence, such as witness testimony or video footage
- Filling out paperwork and submitting it with their legal deadlines
- Communicating with all involved parties of your case, including the insurance company
- Negotiating a potential out-of-court settlement with the opposing party
- Representing you at trial should you require filing a lawsuit to pursue compensation
Our legal team also provides counsel for our clients whenever issues arise. For example, we can advise you on when to consider filing a lawsuit if the insurance company seems to be uncooperative in your personal injury case in LA.
Call KJT Law Group for a Free Case Review to Start Your Legal Journey
If you lost a loved one in a fatal Los Angeles accident that another party caused, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for wrongful death damages in California. A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney from KJT Law Group can review your case to build your argument against the liable party or parties, then petition for your right to recover damages related to your loved one’s death.
Call (818) 507-8525 to get a free and private case review from one of our team members. We can answer basic questions about your case and explain the litigation process to you so that you can start your legal journey. Our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, and there is no obligation to sign up when you call.