Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, our seasoned team of professionals have over 100 years of combined legal experience handling complex legal matters.

Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorneys

Standing Up for Families Who Lost Loved Ones to Negligence

In the United States alone, there are 146,500 accident-related deaths on average every year, making death from unintentional injuries the fourth-leading cause of fatalities. Many people who suddenly die in unexpected circumstances leave behind spouses, children, parents, and other loved ones who never imagined they would face such a tragedy. In the wake of these sudden financial and emotional losses, surviving family members may not know how to proceed.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers can represent the surviving family members of wrongful death victims. Although some wrongful death claims seem straightforward, defendants will almost always fight aggressively against liability for a death. During the difficult time after a loved one passes, family members may benefit from a law firm that has the resources and experience to fight for justice on their behalf.

If your loved one recently suffered fatal injuries in an accident in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, please do not wait to call us at (866) 634-4525 to discuss whether we can help.

When Is a Death Considered Wrongful?

Wrongful death means a preventable death that resulted from someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. This can apply to a wide range of fatal accidents that may lead to legal claims.

The following are only some of the many common causes of wrongful death in California:

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed after someone is killed by another party’s negligence, misconduct, or illegal activity. Generally, surviving close family members will have the right to make a claim for damages in such cases.

Wrongful death claims often rely on evidence from a criminal conviction to prove the liability of an at-fault party. However, it is not always necessary for the liable party to be guilty of a crime. Take O.J. Simpson for example. He was not convicted of murder, but he was later found liable in civil court for the wrongful death of the individuals he was accused of killing.

In order to prove a wrongful death case, the following general elements need to be shown:

  • A human being had died;
  • The death was the result of another party’s negligence and/or intent to harm;
  • Surviving family members have suffered monetary damages stemming from the death; and
  • A personal representative has been appointed to administer the deceased person’s estate.

Who Can I Hold Accountable for a Wrongful Death?

Many different types of actions – or inaction – can result in wrongful deaths. In addition, many different parties may face liability for wrongful death. An individual, company, or government entity’s negligence can all lead to a fatal accident. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we are ready to take on wrongful death claims stemming from a wide range of accidents and negligent acts.

No matter the cause of your loved one’s accident, the law recognizes that wrongful death results in tremendous economic and non-economic damages, and that survivors should not shoulder these losses alone. Instead, the party responsible may be required to pay compensation to the victim’s family for the death of their loved one and certain losses incurred due to the death.

Eligibility for a Wrongful Death Claim

Generally, only close family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. However, because there are other possible parties who may be eligible for a claim in certain circumstances, it’s important to review your case with a qualified attorney. An experienced wrongful death attorney can evaluate your relationship to your loved one and help determine whether you have a valid legal claim.

California’s wrongful death statute permits the following surviving relatives to bring a wrongful death action:

  • A spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Other heirs, such as parents or siblings
  • The personal representative of the person’s estate

Additional people may also have the right to bring wrongful death lawsuits if they depended financially on the deceased person.

Such people include:

  • A putative spouse or a putative spouse’s children (Putative spouse means someone who believed that he or she was married to the deceased person, even though the marriage was not valid)
  • Stepchildren
  • Parents

Statute of Limitations in California Wrongful Death Cases

There is a specific amount of time in which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. This is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is not the same in each state.

In California, the statute of limitations is two years for most situations.

If a healthcare provider was negligent, however, the statute of limitations is three years from the date the patient was injured or one year after the plaintiff should have discovered the injury — whichever one of these occurs first. Finally, if the lawsuit is based on tort liability, then the claim against the government must be filed within six months.

Helping Clients Recover for All of Their Losses

The primary purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate surviving family members for various losses suffered due to the death of their loved one. Generally, family members can seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses, though the damages available depend on the circumstances—and every case is unique.

Economic Damages for Wrongful Death

Economic damages compensate families for financial losses that bills, receipts, pay statements, and other financial documents can verify. Courts may also award economic damages that represent the value of lost future earnings or even lost household services. For example, if a spouse would likely have worked another 30 years, the surviving spouse may seek 30 years’ worth of lost future income, factoring in expected increases in wages, inflation, and other factors over time. These calculations often require the assistance of economic and occupational experts, which our attorneys use on a regular basis.

Economic damages may include:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes the reasonable and necessary medical costs incurred for the care and treatment of the deceased person's injuries or illness before their death.
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses: These expenses cover the costs associated with the funeral service, burial plot, casket, cremation, headstone, and other related expenses.
  • Lost Income/Wages: This compensates for the earnings the deceased would have provided to their family had they lived. It may include the deceased's salary, wages, bonuses, benefits, and other forms of income.
  • Loss of Future Earnings: This accounts for the income that the deceased would have earned over their expected work-life expectancy if they had not died prematurely due to the wrongful act.
  • Loss of Benefits: This includes the value of employment benefits that the deceased would have provided to their family, such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and other fringe benefits.
  • Property Damage: If the wrongful act resulted in damage to property owned by the deceased, such as a vehicle or home, the costs of repairing or replacing the property may be included as economic damages.
  • Loss of Household Services: This covers the value of household services that the deceased would have provided, such as childcare, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
  • Loss of Inheritance: This compensates for the financial inheritance that the surviving family members would have received from the deceased if they had lived longer.
  • Medical and End-of-Life Care Expenses: This includes the costs of medical care, treatment, and medication provided to the deceased for their injuries or illness leading up to their death.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit refer to compensation awarded for intangible losses suffered by the surviving family members as a result of their loved one's death. These damages are meant to compensate for the emotional and psychological impact of the loss, rather than for measurable financial losses.

Common types of non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Pain and suffering: This includes the physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before their death, as well as the mental anguish and emotional distress suffered by surviving family members due to the loss of their loved one.
  • Loss of Companionship: This compensates for the loss of the deceased's love, companionship, guidance, and support. It acknowledges the emotional bond and relationship that the surviving family members shared with the deceased.
  • Loss of Consortium: This refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship or the inability to engage in activities or enjoy life as fully as before due to the loss of the deceased.
  • Loss of Consortium (Spousal): Specifically for spouses, this encompasses the loss of companionship, intimacy, and support that the deceased spouse provided.
  • Loss of Parental Guidance: For children who have lost a parent, this compensates for the guidance, care, and nurturing that the deceased parent would have provided throughout the child's life.
  • Loss of Household Services: This includes the value of household services that the deceased would have provided, such as childcare, household maintenance, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This compensates for the deprivation of the enjoyment and pleasures of life that the deceased would have experienced if they had not died due to the wrongful act of another.

No amount of money can ever replace the presence of a spouse, parent, or child, but courts may award additional compensation for the loss of love, affection, companionship, moral support, and when appropriate, sexual intimacy. If a case does not settle pre-trial, the jury may determine the amount necessary to compensate a family for the loss of their relationship with their loved one.

Legal Process of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In California, a wrongful death is defined as a death that results from the negligence or misconduct of another person, company, or entity. The legal process for pursuing a wrongful death claim in California typically involves several steps:

  1. Consultation with an Attorney: The first step is to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases. They can evaluate the circumstances surrounding the death and determine whether there are grounds for a wrongful death claim.
  2. Filing a Lawsuit: If the attorney believes there is a viable case, they will file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person's estate or surviving family members. The lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations, which in California is generally two years from the date of the death.
  3. Discovery Process: After the lawsuit is filed, both parties engage in the discovery process. This involves gathering evidence, exchanging information, and taking depositions from witnesses.
  4. Mediation or Settlement Negotiation: In many cases, the parties may attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation or settlement negotiations. This can help avoid the time and expense of a trial.
  5. Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. During the trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who will determine whether the defendant is liable for the wrongful death and, if so, the amount of damages to be awarded.
  6. Appeal (if applicable): If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial, they may have the option to appeal the decision to a higher court.

Throughout this process, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (the party bringing the lawsuit) to demonstrate that the defendant's negligence or misconduct was the proximate cause of the deceased person's death. If successful, the damages awarded in a wrongful death case in California may include compensation for medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost income and benefits, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering experienced by the surviving family members.

Contact Our California Wrongful Death Law Firm Today

Bringing a wrongful death claim can hold responsible parties accountable for the tragic death, and give family members a sense of justice and closure. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our Los Angeles attorneys are prepared to explain the process to you and listen to your story with compassion. We have handled wrongful death cases involving many different scenarios—from auto collisions to workplace accidents to deadly police misconduct. We strive for the moment when our lawyers can help a family move forward after a death and into a better position than when they first called our office.

Here are some reasons why you should hire our firm during this difficult time:

  • Legal Knowledge: We have extensive experience and expertise in handling wrongful death cases. Our attorneys understand the complexities of California's wrongful death laws and can navigate the legal process on your behalf.
  • Investigation and Evidence Gathering: We will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your loved one's death. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts to build a strong case.
  • Emotional Support: Losing a loved one is emotionally challenging, and pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can add to the stress. We provide compassionate support and guidance throughout the legal process, offering you reassurance and peace of mind.
  • Negotiation Prowess: Our attorneys are skilled negotiators who will work tirelessly to reach a fair settlement on your behalf. We will advocate for your best interests and strive to maximize the compensation you receive for your loss.
  • Litigation Experience: If a settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to take your case to trial. With our extensive litigation experience, we will vigorously represent you in court and fight for justice on behalf of your loved one.
  • Financial Compensation: Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can help provide financial compensation to cover medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and other damages. We will work to ensure that you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.
  • Accountability and Justice: Holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions can provide a sense of closure and justice for you and your family. We are committed to seeking accountability for the wrongful death of your loved one and advocating for meaningful change to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

To explore your legal options with one of our compassionate attorneys, give us a call at (866) 634-4525 today.

HELPING OUR CLIENTS TELL THEIR STORY & GET THE COMPENSATION THEY DESERVE

AWARDS & ASSOCIATIONS

  • Best Law Firms by US News

    Named in U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms,” Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP ranks as Tier 1 Personal Injury firm in Los Angeles.

  • The Inner Circle of Advocates

    Founding partners Browne Greene and Bruce A. Broillet are both members of the exclusive invite-only Inner Circle of Advocates, as two of the top 100 plaintiff trial lawyers in America.

  • LACBA

    All of our attorneys are proud to be active members of the Los Angeles County Bar Association or LACBA.

  • Consumer Attorneys of California

    Many firm members have been honored by the Consumer Attorneys of California, including Browne Greene, Christine Spagnoli, and Bruce Broillet, recipients of the Marvin E. Lewis Award. In addition, attorneys Bruce Broillet, Scott Carr, Molly McKibben, and Tobin Lanzetta has been honored with the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award.

  • Best Lawyers

    All 15 of our attorneys have been selected to Best Lawyers® after an extensive peer review process.

  • Top 10 Wrongful Death Verdicts in California in 2019

    Our attorneys were featured in TopVerdict for having one of the Top 10 Wrongful Death Verdicts in California in 2019, with $15 million won for the plaintiff in Keck v. Bel-Air Bay Club.

  • Super Lawyers®

    Our firm has more attorneys on the Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars lists than any other law firm in Southern California, with 15 members selected.

  • CAALA

    Several partners are active members in the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, with attorneys Browne Greene, Bruce Broillet, and Christine Spagnoli named “Trial Lawyer of the Year."

  • Decades of Legal Experience
  • Billions Recovered For Our Clients
  • We're Always Available For Our Clients & Offer Free Consultations
  • We've Taken On Some of The Largest Corporations & Insurance Agencies

Billions Recovered

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