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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

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers are proud to offer professional, effective, and compassionate legal counsel to people who have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing. No defendant ever wants to admit to doing something as tragic as ending someone else’s life, so you can expect a legal fight when you file a claim. By getting us on your side at the very beginning of your case, you can prepare for any challenge with confidence. Let us use our resources and experience to fight for justice and compensation on your behalf and in the memory of your loved one.

If your loved one recently passed away in an accident, call our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at (866) 634-4525 to discuss your legal options.

What Constitutes “Wrongful Death” in California Law?

Under California law, a wrongful death occurs when someone passes away due to the misconduct of another person or party. The person who passes away is called the “decedent.”

Misconduct is generally sorted into three categories:

  1. Negligence
  2. Medical malpractice
  3. Intentional wrongdoing (such as violent crimes)

Are you not sure if your loved one’s passing constitutes a wrongful death? Ask this question: “Could they have filed a personal injury claim if they had survived?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then it’s likely that the law considers their death as “wrongful,” and a wrongful death claim will be justified. To get a clear answer, though, you should talk to our attorneys during a free initial consultation.

Causes of Wrongful Death Claims

With the concept of wrongful death being broadly defined under the law, situations that can lead to wrongful deaths are also broad. If one party’s negligence or wrongdoing resulted in someone else’s death, it is a cause of wrongful death and should be answered with legal action.

Common causes of wrongful death in California include:

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Wrongful Death?

Any person or party can be held liable for a wrongful death when it is their negligence or wrongdoing that caused it. The defendant in a wrongful death claim could be an individual person, a government entity, or a multinational corporation. No matter who needs to be held liable for the untimely passing of your loved one, Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP will be ready to represent your case and best interests.

How to Prove Wrongful Death in California Law

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. In a famous example, O.J. Simpson was not convicted of murder, but he was later found liable in civil court for the wrongful death of the people he was accused of killing. The important difference in his case and others like it is that only a “preponderance of evidence” is needed to win a wrongful death claim, which is much less strenuous to prove than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” evidential bar that must be surpassed in criminal prosecution.

Despite technically needing a “lesser amount of evidence” to win a case, our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers always approach each claim with the idea that there’s no such thing as preparing too much evidence. We look for convincing evidence and compelling arguments, wherever they may be, so the defendant is left with as little room as possible to maneuver.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

California’s wrongful death statute (CCP 377.60 (a)) permits the following surviving relatives to bring a wrongful death action:

  • Decedent’s spouse or domestic partner
  • Decedent’s children
  • Decedent’s grandchildren if their parents are deceased

When no such parties exist to file a wrongful death claim, anyone with a legitimate interest in the decedent’s property and estate, as determined by intestate succession laws, can talk to an attorney about filing a claim instead. Through this option, parents and siblings may be given the option to use a wrongful death claim to pursue compensation and justice after losing a loved one.

Furthermore, California law allows anyone who was financially dependent on the decedent to file a wrongful death claim or request to be recognized as a plaintiff or beneficiary in a claim filed by another eligible party. Long-time partners (putative spouses) and stepchildren are the most commonly included in this third group of people who could potentially file a wrongful death claim. 

How Much Is My Wrongful Death Case Worth?

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.

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 damage compensates families for financial losses that can be verified through bills, receipts, pay statements, and so on. Future economic damage might also be compensable through a wrongful death claim. For example, if a spouse would likely have worked another 30 years before retiring but passed away in an accident, the surviving spouse may seek 30 years’ worth of lost future income, factoring in expected increases in wages, inflation, and other factors. Our attorneys can carefully perform these calculations, often with the help of financial analysts, to pursue a fair and just amount.

Economic damages may include:

  • Financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family had the wrongful death never happened.
  • Value of gifts or benefits the decedent’s family would have received from the decedent.
  • Funeral and burial expenses (up to a “reasonable” limit).
  • Fair value of household services the decedent usually provided for the family or claimants.

Non-Economic Damages for Wrongful Death

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. This damage type is 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:

  • Lost companionship, comfort, care, and protection experienced by the claimants.
  • Lost enjoyment of intimacy with the decedent (considering spouses and putative spouses).
  • Lost guidance that would have been provided by the decedent (usually when considering children).

What is a Survival Action?

In California, a survival action is a claim or lawsuit that is filed on behalf of the estate of the decedent that seeks compensation specifically related to the decedent’s fatal injuries. Through a survival action, damages that aren’t usually available through a wrongful death claim can be pursued. Specifically, a survival action is used to pursue the cost of final medical treatments related to the decedent’s fatal injury or illness, as well as costs related to destroyed property. For example, if someone is hospitalized after a car accident but succumbs to their injuries, a survival action would allow their family to pursue compensation related to the cost of emergency care, hospitalization, vehicle replacement, and so on.

Survival actions are similar to wrongful death actions, and you’ll likely need to file both types of claims if you want compensation, justice, and a sense of closure. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we can help you with both and any other legal procedures needed during this difficult time. 

How Wrongful Death Compensation is Divided in California

If a wrongful death claim is successful, certain types of compensation could be divided by:

  • Following California’s intestacy laws if no will was made.
  • Giving each beneficiary an equal portion of the award or settlement.
  • Providing any surviving spouses and/or children a large portion of the compensation, and then distributing the rest equally among other beneficiaries.

When considering compensation division, it is important to note that this process will likely only impact damages not owed to the decedent’s estate. If the damage is owed to the estate – such as for medical treatment cost reimbursement – the estate will receive all of it. At that point, the estate will decide how the compensation is divided with no input from the civil court that handled the wrongful death case. 

Statute of Limitations in California Wrongful Death Cases

In California, the statute of limitations is two years for most wrongful death cases, starting on the date of the decedent’s death, which might not be the same date as when they suffered an injury or illness that would become fatal. If you don’t bring a claim within this two-year period, you most likely cannot when it ends.

However, uncommon exceptions may apply that change this statute of limitation. For example, the statute of limitations could begin on the date that a link between the decedent’s death and medical practice is discovered, which could be after they pass away. Or you could have as little as a few months, starting on the day of the decedent’s death, if you intend to file a claim against the government or a municipal agency.

Legal Process of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The legal process for pursuing a wrongful death claim in California typically involves:

  • Consultation with an attorney: The first step should be to consult a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney from our firm. We can evaluate the circumstances surrounding the death and determine whether there are grounds for a wrongful death claim.
  • Lawsuit preparation and filing: If we believe there is a viable case, we’ll offer our services to prepare and file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. Before this step, we may request the defendant to offer a settlement before the need for further legal action, though.
  • Discovery process: After the lawsuit is filed, both parties engage in the discovery process, which involves gathering evidence, exchanging information, and taking depositions from witnesses.
  • Mediation or settlement negotiation: In many cases, we can attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation or settlement negotiations. Some California civil court judges require at least one settlement negotiation attempt before allowing a lawsuit to come to trial.
  • 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.

Throughout this process, the burden of proof is on you, the plaintiff, to demonstrate that the defendant's negligence or misconduct was “more than likely” the cause of the decedent’s death. Of course, if you allow us to work on your case from the start, you won’t have to worry about preparing a case on your own.

How Can a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?

You are legally allowed to file a wrongful death claim on your own—but no one would recommend it. When someone brings such an important claim without legal guidance, the judge will usually talk to them in an aside and explain that it is highly advised to go and hire a wrongful death attorney before the case gets any further. Even the defendant and their insurance company representative will likely admit just how helpful it is to hire a professional wrongful death lawyer from a professional law firm like ours.

When you hire our firm to represent you during this difficult time, you will appreciate our:

  • Legal knowledge: All our years of legal knowledge and practice effectively become your own when you hire us to act on your behalf.
  • Resources: We can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your loved one's death and draw upon vast resources to complete this important step without delays.
  • Litigation experience: If a settlement cannot be reached, we will be prepared to take your case to trial because we prepare each case as if it is destined to enter litigation.
  • 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.

Contact Our Los Angeles Wrongful Death Law Firm Today

Bringing a wrongful death claim can hold responsible parties accountable for the tragic loss of a loved one—but it is sure to lead to a legal fight. When you want a sense of justice and closure but not frustrations and headaches, leave everything up to the compassionate Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. We have successfully handled wrongful death cases involving many different accidents and forms of negligence—from car crashes to workplace accidents to deadly police misconduct. Trust our experience and knowledge to guide you through this challenging time, just as we have for so many others.

To explore your legal options with one of our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers, call (866) 634-4525 today and ask for a FREE consultation.

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.
    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.
    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."
    Firm partners Christine D. Spagnoli and Molly McKibben have both been honored by the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and are active members.
  • Top 50 Personal Injury Verdicts in California in 2019
    After winning $2.6 million for the plaintiff’s side in a head-on collision case, our victory was named in the Top 50 Personal Injury Verdicts in California in 2019 by TopVerdict.
  • Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch
    Recipients of this recognition are held up to the same standards as for The Best Lawyers in America, but only legal professionals in the first ten years of their careers qualify. Four attorneys at GBW have been recognized with this award in 2021.
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    Several of our partners are members in the American Board of Trial Advocates, a national invite-only association consisting of the most experienced trial lawyers.
  • Top 100 Settlements in California in 2019
    Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, was featured by TopVerdict in the Top 100 Settlements across all practice areas in California for 2019.
  • International Society of Barristers
    Our team includes several Fellows and Associates with the invite-only International Society of Barristers in recognition of their trial advocacy.
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers
    Bruce A. Broillet and Christine D. Spagnoli are Fellows with the invite-only International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a group of elite trial lawyers from over 30 countries.
  • American College of Trial Lawyers
    A preeminent trial lawyers’ organization in North America, the American College of Trial Lawyers have elected firm partners Bruce Broillet, Mark Quigley, and Geoffrey Wells as Fellows.

Why Choose Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP?

  • 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


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