Wrongful Death Lawyer – Get Help With Settlements, Statutes & New Laws

Orange County Wrongful Death Lawyer

wrongful death case

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 the 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 The Law Offices of Daniel Kim

A good wrongful death attorney in Orange County 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. Call us today for a Free consultation and to get answers to your questions.


Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?

The law 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 “who 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 stepkids
  • The deceased person’s “putative spouse” and kids of the putative spouse


How Long Is the 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 victim’s fault you need to call us ASAP. Don’t fight the system alone, call The 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 accidental death, even when a person is a passenger.

California has more than 4,000 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 semi-trucks or commercial vehicles. 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, which could be an Uber or Lyft, etc.


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 the car that the 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 third party responsible for helping create dangerous road conditions
  • Governmental parties are responsible for road defects causing a crash, etc.

When a family member or loved one is dealing with the loss of 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 assured 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 Claims

Wrongful death damages are meant to financially compensate families for the amount of support they would have reasonably expected from the deceased if he or she would have lived. Typically these “compensatory damages” can include economic and non-economic losses.

The time period that such damages are recoverable is shorter than either: The deceased person’s life expectancy at the time of the wrongful act or The life expectancy for the plaintiff at the time of the wrongful act.

Non-economic Damages 

In the state of California, “non-economic damages” for wrongful death cases may include compensation for the loss of the deceased. There is no fixed standard for deciding the amount of noneconomic damages in a wrongful death case here in California:

  • Financial support
  • Moral support
  • Society and companionship
  • Affection and love

Economic Damages

Economic damages in California for wrongful death can include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Financial support the deceased would have offered to the family
  • 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.

  • 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 The Law Offices of Daniel Kim today.