Are you dealing with the pain of having lost a loved one because of something someone else did? Are you wondering about your options for pursuing a wrongful death claim in Beverly Hills, California? At Saeedian Law Group, we understand how hard this time is for you and are here to help you get through it. 

Our team has the experience and dedication to handle your case with the care and attention it deserves. We’ll work tirelessly to seek the compensation you need to cover funeral costs, reduced income, and other losses resulting from your loved one’s death. At the same time, we’ll support you through a challenging period, providing you with the compassion you deserve when you need it most.

Let us take the legal burden off your shoulders so you can focus on healing. Contact us today for a free case review to discuss your case with a Beverly Hills wrongful death attorney.

How Does California Define Wrongful Death?

In California, the law defines “wrongful death” as a death that results from someone else’s wrongful act or neglect. If one person dies because of something another person did or didn’t do, the decedent’s surviving family members have grounds for a wrongful death claim against that other person. 

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?

In California, the law not only identifies immediate family members as eligible to sue for wrongful death but also extends rights to others who had significant relationships with the deceased. This can include:

  • Spouses or Domestic Partners: This category includes both legal spouses and registered domestic partners.
  • Children: Furthermore, if there are no living children, any living grandchildren of the decedent may file.

If the above do not file a wrongful death claim, the option to do so falls to the following:

  • Inheritors: Anyone who would have a right to inherit the deceased’s property under California’s intestate succession laws has a claim. Intestate succession refers to the process where state law determines who inherits a person’s property if they die without a will.
  • Dependents: Anyone who was at least 50 percent dependent on the decedent for support may also file a wrongful death claim, including any putative spouse, children of a putative spouse, stepchildren, parents, and the legal guardians of the decedent if the parents are deceased.
  • Legal Representatives: A legal representative of the deceased’s estate, such as an executor or administrator, can also pursue a claim on behalf of eligible survivors.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit If a Criminal Homicide Case Already Exists?

Yes, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit even if there is already an ongoing criminal homicide case related to the death. Here’s what separates a civil wrongful death claim from a criminal homicide case:

  • Separate Legal Processes: A criminal case and a wrongful death lawsuit are two different legal actions. A criminal case involves the authorities of the state seeking to punish an offender for the damage they’ve caused society at large. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case where the deceased’s family seeks compensation for the harm the defendant caused them and their family specifically.
  • Different Standards of Proof: In a criminal case, a conviction is made on proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil case like a wrongful death lawsuit, the standard is “preponderance of the evidence” – only that it was more likely than not that the defendant did what was alleged.
  • Distinct Actions: You can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit independently of the state’s criminal case. They operate independently, in separate court systems, and with different burdens of proof, so the outcome of one does not directly affect the other. You can sue for wrongful death if the criminal case results in a not-guilty verdict or if the government chooses not to pursue criminal charges at all.
  • Compensation Focus: A criminal verdict against a defendant will result in penalties like fines, jail time, and probation. A civil verdict, on the other hand, will result in the defendant having to pay some kind of compensation to the plaintiffs who brought the case. Surviving loved ones can seek money for things like funeral expenses, losses in household income, and even loss of companionship and guidance.

Compensation for California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The plaintiff in a California wrongful death claim can seek money for a variety of harms they suffered because of their loved one’s death, including:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support the deceased would have contributed to the family
  • Lost benefits, like health insurance
  • Value of household services the deceased provided
  • Loss of love, companionship, and comfort
  • Loss of moral support and guidance
  • Loss of enjoyment of sexual relations (for spouses or partners)
  • Loss of training and advice the deceased would have provided

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

In California, you have two years from the date of a person’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, certain situations can change this timeline, making it shorter or longer. For example, if the death resulted from medical malpractice, you might have only one year from when you discovered or should have discovered the cause of death. If the claim is against a California government entity or employee, you have six months from the date of death to file.

Waiting too long to file can mean losing the right to compensation entirely. These filing deadlines are crucial because they ensure that cases proceed while evidence is fresh and witnesses’ memories are clear. A lawyer can help you understand these timelines and file your claim correctly and promptly. 

How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You

Having an experienced lawyer by your side can make a big difference in handling a wrongful death claim in California. They can help you by:

  • Investigating the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death
  • Gathering and analyzing evidence to support your claim
  • Identifying all potential sources of compensation
  • Calculating the full value of your claim, including projected future losses
  • Filing all necessary paperwork within the required deadlines
  • Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Representing you in court, if necessary
  • Seeking the maximum compensation available under the law

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Saeedian Law Group is here to listen to your story, answer your questions, and guide you on the path to justice for your loved one. You don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out to us now for a free consultation, and let’s talk about how we can help you with your wrongful death claim.