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Losing a loved one in an unexpected and tragic event is a devastating and painful experience, primarily if the death occurred because of a negligent act by another individual or entity. In such cases, the surviving family members of the deceased person may have legal rights to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. This article will provide an overview of wrongful death claims in California and offer insight into the legal process of seeking justice for your lost family member.

wrongful death

Definition of wrongful death claim

Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a situation where another party’s negligent, reckless, or intentional acts cause a person’s death. In these cases, the at-fault party can be held financially accountable for the harm caused and the resulting losses incurred by the deceased person’s surviving family members.

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Importance of understanding wrongful death lawsuit

Understanding the legal process involved in wrongful death compensation claims is essential for grieving family members who wish to seek compensation and hold the responsible parties accountable. The process can be complex, and navigating the legal system can be challenging without proper guidance.

Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneysexperience and expertise in handling wrongful death cases

At Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys, our team of experienced California wrongful death attorneys is committed to providing compassionate and dedicated legal representation for surviving family members dealing with the unexpected death of a loved one. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your wrongful death case and help you understand your legal options.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

To establish a wrongful death claim, specific legal elements must be proven. These include:

First, it must be established that the at-fault party owed the deceased person a specific duty of care. This means they had a responsibility to act with proper respect to avoid causing harm to the dead.

Next, it must be shown that the at-fault party breached their duty of care by acting negligently, recklessly, or intentionally.

It is essential to demonstrate that the at-fault party’s breach of duty directly caused the deceased person’s death. There must be sufficient evidence to establish a causal link between the negligent act and the fatal outcome.

Finally, it must be proven that the surviving family members suffered damages or losses due to the wrongful death suit. These damages can include economic and non-economic losses, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of companionship.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death claims can arise from various circumstances where a person’s death is caused by another party’s negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior. Common types of wrongful death cases include:

An experienced wrongful death attorney will thoroughly investigate the case to identify all responsible parties and build a solid argument to hold them accountable. This process involves:

If a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or other medical personnel, fails to provide the appropriate standard of care, their negligence can result in wrongful death damages.

Car accidents involving negligent or reckless drivers can lead to fatal accident scenarios, resulting in wrongful death lawsuits and claims.

Employers must maintain a safe working environment, but if they fail and a worker dies, a wrongful death claim may be pursued.

Manufacturers and sellers of products must ensure their products are safe for use. A wrongful death claim may be filed if a product is defective and causes a person’s death.

If a property owner or occupier is negligent in maintaining a safe environment, a person dies. As a result, the family members may seek compensation through a wrongful death action.

Sometimes, the wrongful death of a loved one can result from the negligent or intentional acts of third parties, such as in cases of inadequate security measures, poor maintenance of premises or equipment, or other harmful actions or inactions that lead to fatal consequences. In these instances, the responsible parties can be held liable for the damages suffered by the grieving family members.

Deaths can also result from exposure to hazardous substances or dangerous environments due to the negligent actions of individuals or entities responsible for their management. Examples include chemical spills, exposure to radioactive materials, and deaths related to defective safety equipment.

Wrongful death claims can also arise from incidents involving public entities such as the state, city, or other government bodies. Examples of such claims include accidents involving public vehicles or negligence on behalf of a government entity that resulted in a fatal incident.

In some cases, more than one party may be considered at fault for the wrongful death of an individual. Establishing liability in these situations can be complex, as each party might deny responsibility or argue that another party is primarily at fault. A skilled wrongful death attorney can help establish the responsibility of all relevant parties and ensure that their contribution to the fatal event is accurately represented within the legal claim.

In cases where a person intentionally causes the death of another, such as assault, murder, or other violent crimes, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Numerous other circumstances can lead to wrongful death claims, including chemical exposure, negligent security, and pedestrian accidents.

Determining the Responsible Parties

Determining the responsible parties is a crucial aspect of a wrongful death claim. In many cases, more than one party may be held liable for contributing to an individual’s wrongful death settlement amount. Responsible parties may include individuals, businesses, government entities, or other organizations that played a role in causing the fatal outcome.


An experienced wrongful death attorney will thoroughly investigate the case to identify all responsible parties and build a solid argument to hold them accountable. This process involves:

An in-depth investigation is essential to gather information and evidence on the death’s circumstances. This may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents and records, and employing experts in various fields to provide insights and analysis.

Identifying the chain of responsibility involves uncovering the roles and actions of all parties involved and how these contributed to the death. This can help establish which parties hold significant or partial responsibility for the loss.

Suppose it is determined that more than one party contributed to the wrongful death. In that case, these parties can be held jointly and severally liable for the damages incurred by the surviving family members. In such cases, the portion of liability attributed to each party may vary based on the circumstances, their actions, and applicable laws.

In some wrongful death cases, establishing liability can be complicated as the responsible parties might attempt to deny or shift responsibility. An experienced criminal death attorney can help build a strong case by overcoming these challenges and proving the liability of each involved party.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

California law dictates who can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person. Generally, the following individuals are eligible to file:

This category includes the deceased’s spouse, domestic partner, and children.

In some cases, individuals not legally related but financially dependent on the deceased, such as a life partner or a putative spouse, can file a wrongful death claim.

If there are no surviving immediate family members, more distant relatives, like siblings or grandparents, may be able to file a claim.

In some situations, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death action.

Each state has rules governing who can file a wrongful death claim. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine your eligibility to file or bring a wrongful death claim and navigate any exceptions that may apply.

Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

In California wrongful death cases, the surviving family members can seek various forms of compensation, referred to as damages. These damages can be categorized into economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages include quantifiable financial losses incurred due to the deceased person’s death. These damages may consist of the following:

Medical expenses

Medical bills related to the deceased person’s final illness, personal injury, or injuries can be recovered as part of the wrongful death claim.

Funeral and burial expenses

The family members who paid for these expenses can recover reasonable funeral and burial costs.

Loss of income and future earnings

Loss of the deceased person’s income and potential future earnings can be a significant part of the compensation sought in a wrongful death case.

Loss of benefits

Surviving family members may also be compensated for the loss of benefits, such as a pension, health insurance, or other employee benefits the deceased would have otherwise received.

Non-economic damages are not as easily quantifiable but represent the emotional losses suffered by the surviving spouse and family members. These damages can include:

Pain and suffering

While the deceased person’s pain and suffering cannot be compensated, the family’s emotional grief and loss can be considered.

Loss of companionship

The survivors can seek compensation for the loss of companionship, love, and affection resulting from the deceased person or loved one’s death.

Loss of parental guidance

In a wrongful death scenario, children who lose a parent can be compensated for the loss of guidance, care, nurturing, and education the deceased would have provided.

Punitive damages may sometimes be awarded to punish the at-fault party for particularly egregious or malicious behavior. These damages are meant to deter the wrongdoer’s and others’ future similar conduct.

Various factors can impact the calculation of damages in a wrongful death case, such as the deceased person’s age, income, earning potential, and the unique circumstances of their family relationships. The specific facts of each case can determine the amount of damages awarded and how they are calculated.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims In California

California has a specific time limit or statute of limitations within which a wrongful death claim must be filed.

Generally, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of death.

Regardless of the specific time limits applicable to a wrongful death claim, it is crucial to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to preserve crucial evidence and ensure your case is filed within the appropriate time frame.

Dog bite laws vary from state to state, with each jurisdiction having its own set of rules and regulations governing liability for dog attacks. Some states follow strict liability laws, while others apply negligence-based liability principles. It is essential to be familiar with the various dog bite law statutes in the state where the incident occurred to determine the appropriate legal course of action.

The Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim can be a complex legal process. The following steps provide an overview of what to expect while pursuing a wrongful death action:

Consulting with an experienced wrongful death lawyer is the first step in understanding your rights and the legal process.

After retaining an attorney, they will thoroughly investigate the case, gathering crucial evidence to support your wrongful death claim.

Once the investigation is complete, your attorney will file the wrongful death claim on your behalf, naming the responsible parties.

Many wrongful death cases settle before making it to trial. Your attorney will negotiate with the at-fault party or their insurance company, seeking a fair settlement for your losses.

If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your wrongful death case may proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will determine damages and responsibility.

How Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help

Expertise in wrongful death cases


At Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys, our experienced California wrongful death attorneys deeply understand the complexities surrounding wrongful death cases. They are dedicated to providing our clients with skilled and compassionate representation.


Compassionate and dedicated legal representation


We understand the emotional toll that the loss of a loved one can have on family members, and we approach each case with empathy and a commitment to obtaining a favorable outcome for our clients.


Proven track record of success


Our attorneys have a proven history of achieving successful outcomes for surviving family members in wrongful death cases, including securing financial compensation for their losses.


Free initial consultation


We offer a free consultation to discuss your wrongful death personal injury claim, evaluate your case, and help you understand your legal options.

Contact Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys for a free consultation

To schedule your free and confidential case review call us at 888-597-4099 or fill out the form below.



Our team of distinguished personal injury attorneys in California operates on a unique contingency basis, implying that we will only receive a penny if you win your case! It’s our job to handle the intricate legal navigation needed to persuade the insurance company to provide the compensation you deserve. It is crucial to engage an attorney with significant resources.

Hiring a personal injury attorney puts a professional advocate on your side who has your best interests in mind. They can offer you peace of mind and the assurance that you’re moving towards the best possible outcome in a difficult situation.

We don’t bow to insurance companies’ pressure to settle claims. Our mission is to reach a settlement that truly compensates you for the injuries sustained in your car accident. Leveraging years of expertise and successful settlements, we have the resources and skills to secure substantial payments. Our principal office in Orange County, Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys, has the latest legal tools to assist clients in achieving impressive settlements.

Our presence extends beyond the main office, with branches across various California locations. We’ve strategically positioned our offices in Orange County, San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside. We’ll come to you, irrespective of where you’re in the beautiful state of California. Our recognized personal injury law firm is ready to serve you anywhere!

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To schedule your free and confidential case review call us at 888-597-4099 or fill out the form below.

To schedule your free and confidential case review call us at 888-597-4099 or fill out the form below.