After the death of a loved one, the surviving family and friends often wonder, what now? Do I have the right to file a lawsuit? Is it even worth it to file? How much time do I have?
What Is Wrongful Death?
In California, if a person’s death is “wrongful,” that means that it was caused by someone else’s negligent or intentional act. If another person caused the death, whether through a car accident, a medical mistake, or even a physical fight, then that person is often liable in a wrongful death case.
Unlike a criminal case, a wrongful death lawsuit does not result in jail time. Instead, the wrongdoer is ordered to pay compensation to the deceased’s family. In some cases, a person may face both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit after a death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
After a wrongful death, that person’s family will often consider bringing a lawsuit. However, not everyone related to the deceased is able to file a claim. If the deceased was married or in a domestic partnership, that person’s surviving spouse or partner is allowed to file a claim. Additionally, if that person had children, then they can file a lawsuit as well.
If the deceased was not married and had no children, his or her legal heirs would be able to file the claim. Often, these people are the siblings, parents, or grandparents of the deceased.
In addition, if parents or step-children can show that they were financially dependent on the deceased, they may also be able to bring a lawsuit, even if the deceased has a surviving spouse or other children.
How Much Time Do I Have To File?
In California, the family of the deceased has two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is not filed within this time, known as the statute of limitations, then the family will almost always lose the right to file a claim.
It can be difficult to think about filing a lawsuit after something as tragic as losing a beloved family member. However, the statute of limitations is strict, and does not allow a family to wait longer than two years because of their grief.
When a loved one passes away because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, it is important to speak with a wrongful death attorney as soon as is practical. Though money will never bring your loved one back, it will help your family get justice for the wrongful death.
At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., we work to help the families of victims of wrongful death, and help them hold wrongdoers responsible for their actions. Our compassionate and experienced staff of legal and medical professionals will evaluate your case, and help you understand your family’s rights after a wrongful death.
For a free consultation with a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer, call (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed today.