The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that accidents are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. every year, falling behind heart disease and cancer. Data reveals that Californians fare slightly better, as unintentional deaths rank fourth with more than 15,000 fatalities annually.
Still, for every victim who dies in an accident because of negligence, many surviving family members will suffer losses even more tragic than their grief. Suppose someone close to you was killed in a car accident that is not their fault, it is reassuring to know that you have the opportunity to get justice through filing a wrongful death action. Because these cases are a type of personal injury lawsuit, many of the same principles apply.
One of the key legal concepts to note is California’s statute of limitations, which imposes a deadline on how long you have to take action. When time is of the essence, it is critical to get in touch with a Sherman Oaks Personal Injury Attorney who can assist with your claim. Some answers to FAQs about the wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitations may also help.
What Does a Statute of Limitations Do?
The law acts as a time restriction that forces you to file a lawsuit or forego your rights to do so. If you allow the deadline to expire without initiating litigation, you will give up any right you have to sue in the future for the death of your loved one.
How Long is California’s Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases?
In most cases, you will have two years to file a lawsuit, measured from the date your loved one was killed. You might have longer if the cause of death was not immediately available, such as when an injury is not discovered right away. You have two years from the date on which the cause of death was determined under this discovery or “delayed” discovery rule.
Does the Statute of Limitations Run While I Discuss Settlement With an Insurer?
No, the clock continues to run even after you file a claim and engage in negotiations with the insurance company. For this reason, it is vital to file your claim and move through settlement discussions right away. If you cannot come to a settlement agreement with the insurer, the only alternative is to file a lawsuit.
What are The Other Requirements for a Wrongful Death Case in California?
In addition to complying with the statute of limitations, you must have legal standing. This means that you must be in the class of persons eligible to sue for wrongful death.
The law will state who is in this class of persons. California law allows a surviving spouse, children, or other relatives to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Also, a minor, that is not the child of the decedent but that has been financially dependant decedent for support during the 180 days before the fatal accident is eligible to sue.
You must also prove that the victim was killed because the at-fault party failed to exercise reasonable care when acting. If your wrongful death case is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical and funeral expenses;
- Loss of your loved one’s current or expected earnings;
- Loss of any benefits received by the loved one;
- Most importantly, you are able to recover damages for loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations, the loss of the decedent’s training and guidance
Get Answers from Our Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorneys
While this information may be helpful as an overview, numerous concepts and legal subtleties are involved with wrongful death actions. Our team at El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers is prepared to assist with all essential tasks, so please call 213-985-1120 or go online to set up a free consultation today.