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Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California

Published April 19, 2023 by Harker Injury Law

Grieving family members need to know their legal options when a loved one passes away as a result of another person’s carelessness. But there is only a limited amount of time available to pursue a wrongful death claim.

A California wrongful death claim could be against a person or company because of a negligent act. This could be a hospital, as in medical malpractice cases, or a negligent government entity. In any case, the surviving family members of the deceased must file a lawsuit before the expiration of the local wrongful death statute of limitations.

California law firm Harker Injury Law has empathetic team members who appreciate how challenging it may be to deal with a loved one’s passing under these circumstances. You want to focus on your family now, but you don’t have long to hold the at-fault party accountable before the California statute of limitations expires. That’s where we come in, to assist you with your case against a wrongful death action.

For a free consultation, get in touch with an experienced wrongful death attorney at Harker Injury Law. Our law firm wants to help you receive the compensation you deserve within the time limit the California code allows.

What Is a Wrongful Death Incident?

Nationwide unintentional deaths are the fourth-leading cause of death. When someone dies as a result of another person’s wrongful act or negligence, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. This could be a car accident case or involve a defective product, for example.

What Is the California Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?

There is a time limit to file a claim or bring a wrongful death civil lawsuit. The California wrongful death statute of limitations gives surviving family members up to 2 years after the death of their loved one to file their lawsuits.

You can bring a wrongful death suit if your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. However, your wrongful death case can be dismissed. This happens if you try to submit wrongful death claims after the California statute of limitations has already passed.

What Is the Discovery Rule?

The California wrongful death statute of limitations contains an important provision. It’s possible for the deadline to be delayed under certain circumstances.

The provision applies if the family members could not reasonably have been expected to know the wrongful cause of the deceased person’s passing. This exclusion is known as the “discovery rule” in California.

Once the family members reasonably should have been aware of the cause of death, the two-year statute of limitations period starts. If this can be proven in your case, the “discovery rule” may apply to you.

Either way, you must act quickly. You cannot afford to lose time if a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s carelessness. To avoid any potential problems with the wrongful death statute of limitations in California, get in touch with our law office as soon as you can.

Additional Rare Exceptions Which Affect the Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases

Occasionally, unusual circumstances accompany a wrongful death action case. These exceptions can affect which California wrongful death statute of limitations applies.

Some limited exceptions to California’s personal injury statute of limitations include:

  • When the defendant leaves the state following the accident, the statute of limitations starts when the defendant returns to the state
  • When the plaintiff is incarcerated and his or her loved one passes away, the statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff is released from prison
  • When the plaintiff is mentally ill or in a coma, the statute of limitations period starts when the plaintiff is declared legally competent

Notwithstanding these limited exclusions, it is generally advised that you contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to examine your case.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases

A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed for any death brought on by the carelessness of another person, such as in a car accident. It can include carelessness in medical negligence or could even be connected to an intentional wrongful act of a domestic partner.

Among the most common examples of causes of these types of cases are the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Pedestrian hit-and-runs
  • Slip-and-fall accidents
  • Drowning
  • Assault and battery
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Elder abuse or neglect
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Medical malpractice
  • Boating accidents
  • Train accidents
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Industrial accidents
  • Manufacturing defects

There is one essential requirement for most wrongful death claims: the need to prove that the culpable party’s negligent or even illegal behavior led to the victim’s death. In other words, the person’s death could have been avoided had the liable party acted differently.

The mourning family or loved ones who have lost someone dear to them may be eligible to recover financial compensation for their losses related to the death by means of a wrongful death claim. These losses may include funeral costs, medical bills, missed wages, lost companionship, affection, support, and pain and suffering.

What Damages Are Available to the Victim’s Family in a Wrongful Death Case?

You can be found eligible to receive compensation for damages incurred as a result of the loss of a loved one by means of a wrongful death claim, such as:

  • Funeral and burial expenses: You might be eligible to recover damages for costs associated with the funeral and burial.
  • Medical costs: If your loved one received treatment prior to passing away, you might also be eligible for compensation for those costs.
  • Income loss: If the loved one who passed away was the main source of financial support, a legal claim may include compensation for lost income. The surviving spouse or children, after a parent’s death, may be able to claim compensation for the earnings the deceased might have earned.
  • Loss of companionship, love, and support: You might be able to seek compensation for the psychological harm caused by your loved one’s death. The family of the deceased person can miss his or her company, love, and moral support.
  • Pain and suffering: You might be eligible to get compensation for the mental anguish and suffering brought on by the loss of a loved one.

It is crucial to remember that the specifics of the case, including the deceased person’s relationship to the party seeking compensation, may affect the amount of damages granted in a wrongful death lawsuit.

What’s more, in order to collect compensation after a loved one’s death, it must be established that the loss of life was brought on by another party’s negligence or wrongdoing. If the responsible party can demonstrate that the death was not his or her fault, it could be more challenging to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Do I Need to File a Wrongful Death Claim If the Deceased Carried a Life Insurance Policy?

The truth is that an insurance company may be reluctant to help fully. Insurance companies usually want to give victims less than what they are entitled to receive. This is understandable, given that an insurance company can profit more when bereaved relatives accept lower compensation offers.

Harker Injury Law’s team of experienced wrongful death lawyers can defend you against the insurance company’s annoying tactics to lowball your settlement. We can deal with them on your behalf to make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under California law.

Get in Touch With a California Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Your family’s loss of a loved one can be emotionally and financially taxing. This is especially true when the victim’s death is unanticipated.

You can find financial stability after a wrongful death in California by pursuing a lawsuit. With help, you can hold the individual, government entity, or medical professional who caused the loss of your loved one accountable for what happened.

Harker Injury Law can take on the responsibility of making things financially right for you and your family in a suit — and at no risk to you! We work on a contingency fee basis when providing legal services, so you never pay out of pocket.

Get in touch with us to learn how an experienced attorney can seek to get you the highest amount of compensation possible for your wrongful death case. Set up your free consultation by contacting us right away.

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