What is Wrongful Death?
A “wrongful death claim” in California happens when one person dies as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of another person or entity.
It is something that none of us want to think about, losing a family member or loved one as the result of someone’s wrongful act.
California’s “wrongful death” law will let families recover damages when a loved one dies due to someone’s wrongful act.
This law is set forth officially in California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60.
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit.
It is brought to the courts directly by the survivors of the deceased, or it is brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, and fault is only expressed in terms of money.
We wrote this article to help families in California have a better understanding of their rights and what they need to do in case they are dealing with a loss.
Why Contact Law Offices of Daniel Kim
A good wrongful death attorney can help review your case, go over all the facts, and try to bring some peace back into your life.
An experienced wrongful death law firm can answer any questions you or a family member has.
Daniel Kim and his legal team will be able to help you with the entire legal process from start to finish (on a wrongful death claim).
At The Law Offices of Daniel Kim we always put our clients first, and we’ll fight for your family.
Daniel Kim and his staff will also help negotiate any and all settlement offers to ensure that the insurance companies (or other lawyers) don’t bully you and your family into a bad decision.
Our Law Firm has 5 Star Ratings on Yelp, Google and Facebook.
Call us today for a Free consultation and to get answers to your questions.
We know it’s very hard when you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, so call us today and let us help you with all the legal stuff.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death In California?
The California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 allows the following family members – or their personal reps – to file a wrongful death lawsuit (call Law Offices of Daniel Kim for help).
Only specific people (very strict rules apply to this) are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of California.
This certain statute allows the parties listed below to bring a wrongful death claim:
The deceased person’s living children
The deceased person’s surviving spouse
The deceased person’s domestic partner
In the instance when there is no surviving person in the deceased person’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit can be initiated by anyone “whom would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”.
This might include a deceased person’s siblings, or their parents, as it really will depend on who is still living at the time of the deceased person’s death.
If a person can show that they were financially dependent on the deceased person, then even these people listed below can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California.
The deceased person’s parents
Deceased person’s step kids
The deceased person’s “putative spouse” and kids of the putative spouse
Get all the complete details of the California wrongful death statute at – California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60
How Long Is Statute of Limitations in California for Wrongful Death?
Similar to personal injury claims a wrongful death claim in California must be filed within a set amount of time, known as a statute of limitations.
California law specifically requires that any wrongful death claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of the descendent’s death.
If a case is not filed in the California civil court system within 2 years, then the odds are the family will lose the right to file a claim at all.
Even when the accident was not the victims fault you need to call us ASAP.
Don’t fight the system alone, call Law Offices of Daniel Kim today and get answers.
Wrongful Death Statistics In California
In reality California has a higher annual accidental death total than any other state.
It’s always very important to get a copy of the police car accident report and make sure it is correct – time, date, fault, etc.
From these deaths, a motor vehicle accident is the most common cause of an accidental death, even when person is a passenger.
California has more than 4000 fatalities every year from auto accidents, and many times a driver’s negligence is at fault for these deaths.
Almost 300 California deaths occur each year involving a semi-truck or commercial vehicle.
About 100 people are killed in California each year by contact with machinery or equipment.
Over 300 deaths happen on the job every year, and about 30% involve a motor vehicle, could be an Uber or Lyft, etc.
Fire/explosion and toxic exposure account for just a small amount of deaths in California.
Wrongful Death Auto Accidents in California
If a California car crash leads to a wrongful death lawsuit it’s typically because the accident facts suggest that the deceased victim would still be alive if not for the negligent behavior of the at-fault driver.
Typical examples of this include –
- Driving drunk
- Texting while driving (or cell phone use)
- Reckless and aggressive driving
- Drowsy driving (common among Uber and truck drivers)
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or medication
- Mechanical issues with car that driver neglected (bad brakes etc.)
There are instances where a wrongful death suit is brought against someone other than the driver.
This happens for example with:
- The vehicle manufacturer
- The employer of a truck driver
- Owners of a company vehicle
- A 3rd party responsible for helping create dangerous road conditions
- Governmental parties responsible for road defects causing a crash, etc.
When a family member or loved one is dealing with the loss of a life, it can be very difficult for the family to think straight and move forward in life.
It isn’t always easy to determine which party is at fault, but when you contact The Offices of Daniel Kim you can rest assure we’ll handle everything for you.
Our wrongful death lawyers are experienced and passionate about our protecting our clients.
Don’t fight the insurance companies and court system by yourself.
What Damages Are Available in Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death damages are meant to financially compensate heirs for the amount of support ($$) they would have reasonably expected from the deceased if she (or he) had lived.
Typically these “compensatory damages” can include economic and non-economic losses.
The time period that such damages are recoverable is the shorter of either:
The deceased persons life expectancy at the time of the wrongful act or
The life expectancy for the plaintiff at the time of the wrongful act.
In the state of California, “non-economic damages” for wrongful death cases may include compensation for the loss of the deceased’s –
- Moral support
- Society and companionship
- Affection and love
- Sexual relations
There is not a fixed standard (rules or formula) for deciding the amount of noneconomic damages in a wrongful death case here in California.
A jury is allowed to award any reasonable amount that is based on evidence and common sense.
Economic damages in California for wrongful death can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Financial support the deceased would have offered to the family over their lifetimes
- A reasonable value of household services the deceased would have provided
- The loss of gifts or benefits the heirs would have gotten from the deceased
Wrongful Death Settlements and Compensation
It is very very hard to place a monetary value on a life of a human being, especially a loved one, but there are several factors that can help reach an amount.
These include –
- The deceased’s state of health
- The age of the deceased person
- Income at the time of the wrongful death
- Value of lost benefits like lost pension, etc.
- The deceased’s earning capacity
- The deceased’s education and training
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out
Wrongful death settlements are usually paid out by insurance companies who provide liability coverage for the person(s), or entity, for whom the death is being blamed.
Insurance policies will usually have a policy limit amount, and any amount above that won’t be paid by insurance, but rather the person is individually liable.
Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable?
The IRS says that most wrongful death settlements are non-taxable, providing the payments are compensatory.
This statement just simply means that the compensation is supposed to account for the suffering and pain.
If the damages are punitive and meant to punish the person responsible for the death, the Internal Revenue Service might tax the punitive damages.
This is why it’s vital that any award of damages needs to clearly answer whether the damages are compensatory or punitive.
This alleviates any confusion when it comes to reporting to the IRS.
If you are dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit you’ll want to contact Daniel Kim Law Offices today.