Wrongful Death

2013 June 25

California Wrongful Death Attorney

A “wrongful death” occurs when a person dies due to the negligent, careless, intentional, or reckless act of another person or entity. If someone close to you has died due to the wrongful act or neglect of another, it is important to find a reputable and well-established law firm with an exceptional reputation for handling wrongful death cases.
Time is of the essence in many wrongful death actions. Preserving evidence and identifying defendants are key factors in many of the underlying accidents involving death cases. This requires retaining investigators and experts to commence investigations and evaluations as promptly as possible. Hiring an experienced California wrongful death attorney therefore should not be delayed.

Wrongful Death Statutes

Under traditional “common law” wrongful death actions did not exist. It was thought that the claim of the victim of a wrongful death died with that person. State legislatures realized that this rule failed to compensate family members and others who suffered certain economic and non-economic losses due to a person’s death and enacted wrongful death laws to correct this problem.

California Wrongful Death Claimants

California’s wrongful death laws permit only individuals with a certain relationship to the victim to file a wrongful death claim. Below are the heirs who may file these actions, in descending order of priority:

  • The victim’s surviving spouse, children, dependent stepchildren, dependent minors living in the victim’s household for at least six months, and dependent parents.
  • If there are no heirs as described above, then claimants include those who would be entitled to inherit the victim’s estate under the law of intestate succession: Parents, whether or not they were dependent; if there are none, then siblings or children of deceased siblings; if there are none, then grandparents; if there are none, then children of a deceased spouse.
  • If none of these relatives exist, the next of kin may file a wrongful death suit.

A wrongful death victim’s personal representative can also maintain a wrongful death action on behalf of the individuals listed above. A personal representative is a person appointed by the probate court to handle the wrongful death victim’s assets, or estate. When proceeds are received from the wrongful death suit, they may be distributed by the personal representative according to the wrongful death statute.

California Wrongful Death Lawyer

If someone close to you has died due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior of another party, it is essential that you contact a well-established personal injury law firm. You should ensure that the law firm has extensive experience and expertise in prosecuting wrongful death cases and in particular the type of accident that caused the fatality.

Exceptional preparation of a wrongful death case is a requirement to maximize the chances of success. Proving the potentially high worth of a wrongful death case requires a great deal of skill and experience. Among the many responsibilities and tasks required of lawyers prosecuting a wrongful death include:
  • Determining whether an estate should be created in a wrongful death case. When numerous claimants are entitled to recovery under the wrongful death statute, a thorough analysis may be required to determine whether a probate estate should be created and the claim brought in the name of the estate instead of the individual heirs.
  • Establishing life expectancy. This requires a sophisticated analysis of the victim’s age, health, activities, lifestyle and occupation.
  • Determining the amount of lost financial support suffered by the heir in a wrongful death case. If the decedent was supporting the heirs financially at the time of death, an economic analysis of the victim’s employment history, past wages, and expected future wages is required to ascertain the amount of economic damages to which the heirs are entitled.
  • Establishing a monetary value in a wrongful death claim for loss of companionship, society and comfort. By their very nature these are non-economic damages and therefore not quantifiable through formulas or expert testimony. The extent of compensation heirs can recover in these types of damages relies in significant part on the preparation and artfulness of the lawyers they hire. Convincing juries of the amount to which the heirs are entitled for these damages must be done skillfully through the lawyer’s capacity for persuasion and advocacy.
  • Proving and explaining liability and damages in a wrongful death case to a jury This requires not only talent and skill but the employment of at times numerous experts. As a result these cases are often expensive to prosecute properly.

Highly skilled wrongful death attorney Jonathan Bae at EZER LAW GROUP understand the complex nature of wrongful death claims and have helped clients through the difficult circumstances brought about by these tragic losses. We have obtained exceptional results in death cases. For an immediate consultation regarding a wrongful death of someone close to you, please call us at: