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How to File and Win a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Have you lost someone due to someone’s negligence or recklessness? You have rights under California law and may be eligible to recover a cash settlement by filing a wrongful death claim with Martinian Lawyers.

Accidents happen every day, but when negligence or disregard for human life leads to a tragic fatality, a wrongful death claim can be a means of helping the victim’s surviving family members secure justice through much-needed financial compensation.

The term ‘wrongful death’ is commonly heard on the news, but many people aren’t aware of what such a claim entails or who is eligible to bring one in the event of a tragedy due to negligence. In the following blog, we will review everything you need to know about filing and winning this type of lawsuit with the experienced team of attorneys from Martinian Lawyers.

What is Wrongful Death Under California Law?

Wrongful death is defined under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. The law states that when the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act (i.e. negligence, carelessness, recklessness), the following individuals may bring a civil claim for damages:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The surviving domestic partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren (if the deceased person’s children are also deceased),
  • Other children (such as minors/stepchildren) who were dependent on the decedent 90 days prior to his or her death
  • The persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession

Additionally, the text of the law states that:

If the parents of the decedent would be entitled to bring an action under this subdivision, and the parents are deceased, then the legal guardians of the decedent, if any, may bring an action under this subdivision as if they were the decedent’s parents.

(b) (1) Whether or not qualified under subdivision (a), if they were dependent on the decedent, the putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, parents, or the legal guardians of the decedent if the parents are deceased.

(2) As used in this subdivision, “putative spouse” means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid.

(c) A minor, whether or not qualified under subdivision (a) or (b), if, at the time of the decedent’s death, the minor resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent’s household and was dependent on the decedent for one-half or more of the minor’s support.

This interpretation of the wrongful death law applied as of January 1, 1993 in the state of California.

Examples of Major Wrongful Death Lawsuits

After O.J. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 on criminal charges related to the murder of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, the surviving family members brought a wrongful death claim against the former football star. Simpson was found liable in the wrongful death action for the murders of both Brown and Goldman, and their families were awarded $33.5 million in damages.

The case is perhaps the most well-known involving a wrongful death claim. But there are a number of other recent cases that include high-profile celebrities and led to major wrongful death verdicts.

·In 2015, actor Paul Walker’s daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against car manufacturer Porsche after a fatal car crash. The terms of the settlement were confidential, but news reports also confirmed that Porsche settled a separate lawsuit filed by Walker’s father.

·In 2018, the parents of actor Anton Yelchin settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler, the makers of the Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicle which was involved in their son’s 2016 death. The late actor was reportedly crushed by the SUV while in his driveway. Again, the terms of this particular wrongful death settlement were not disclosed, but legal experts estimate that a substantial sum of money was awarded to Yelchin’s parents.

·In 2021, the family of George Floyd reached a $27 million wrongful death settlement with the City of Minneapolis after he died in police custody. It was deemed to be the largest pre-trial settlement in a wrongful death case ever, according to a USA Today report.

Wrongful death claims often lead to significant settlements or verdicts which are meant to reflect a monetary sum relative to the overall loss suffered by the surviving family members.

How Much is a California Wrongful Death Claim Worth?

The value of a wrongful death claim can depend on many factors. The extent of negligence on the part of the defendant is one of the most important aspects, but whenever a death occurs as a result of a preventable tragedy, the experienced team at Martinian Lawyers is ready to fight aggressively for your family.

When you contact our wrongful death attorneys for a free consultation, we will take the time to carefully review the facts of your case and proceed with an action that seeks to recover any and all applicable damages, such as:

  • Pain and suffering of the decedent
  • Disfigurement of the decedent
  • Income that would have been earned by the decedent
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Hospital and medical expenses (if provided prior to the death)
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of support
  • Loss of sexual partner
  • Loss of insurance

Although punitive damages are not included in California wrongful death claims, damages related to loss of consortium are possible. Loss of consortium applies in situations where a spouse or registered domestic partner is deprived of the companionship and intimacy of a living partner due to another person’s negligence.

How Common is Wrongful Death (California Statistics)?

Wrongful death cases occur much more often than most people realize:

  • In 2018, 3563 people died in California car accidents.
  • The California Department of Industrial Relations reported 422 work-related deaths in 2018 (and that figure has risen considerably since 2014).
  • From January 2020 to September 2020, 239 murders occurred in Los Angeles County.

When a death occurs due to negligence, you and your family are strongly encouraged to protect your right to maximum financial compensation. The wrongful death attorneys at Martinian Lawyers are dedicated to securing you the justice you and your family deserve.

How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Case?

The burden of proof in your family’s wrongful death case hinges on proving negligence. But our wrongful death team has extensive experience with these types of cases and will work tirelessly to demonstrate that:

  • A duty of care exists
  • That duty of care was violated
  • The victim died during the incident (or died due to injuries sustained during the incident)
  • The incident in question caused the victim’s death

Regardless of the specific circumstances related to the incident which took the life of your loved one, reach out Martinian & Associated today at 323-850-1900 to learn more about your legal rights.

Incidents Leading to Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death lawsuits are often filed against certain negligence parties

  • Drivers
  • Businesses
  • Property owners
  • Corporations
  • Criminals
  • Product manufacturers

Some of the common wrongful death scenarios that we see at Martinian Lawyers include:

  • A driver causes a deadly crash due to being aggressive, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or distracted. As a result, a cash settlement may be awarded after you file a claim.
  • A business or property owner fails to maintain a location under standard safety requirements and a death occurs (e.g. through a collapsing roof, a fire, a building collapse). As a result, the at-fault party can be held liable for the accident.
  • Defective products can also cause fatalities. Accordingly, your family may file suit against that company for compensation.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney to File Your Claim

If a loved one died in a senseless tragedy due to someone’s negligence, you could be entitled to a major cash settlement.

But recovering maximum financial compensation requires a skilled and proven wrongful death lawyer from Martinian Lawyers. We’re here to work tirelessly on your behalf and protect your rights.

At Martinian Lawyers, our team has over 20 years of experience representing surviving family members in wrongful death claims and securing maximum financial damages awards for their cases. To date, attorney Tigran Martinian and his associates have secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for clients.

After a tragic death of a loved one, don’t settle for anything less than the Martinian Lawyers Advantage. We will fight to recover you the largest possible cash settlement based on the circumstances of your unique claim (and in the shortest amount of time).

Contact one of our dedicated attorneys today at 323-850-1900 for a free consultation. Martinian Lawyers is a leading California wrongful death firm, and our no fee guarantee means we never charge a penny until we’ve successfully secured maximum financial compensation for your claim.