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san rafael wrongful death attorney​

Putting the “Personal” back in injury law​
wrongful death

Dramatization, not an actual client

There are few things more difficult in life than when a loved one dies. When it happens unexpectedly because of something that someone else did — or failed to do — the situation may be even more tragic. In these cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may help family members achieve some measure of justice.

A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury case. This type of lawsuit allows families to recover compensation when a loved one has died as the result of someone’s wrongful act. Wrongful death suits may be filed after a car accidentslip and fallmotorcycle accident, or any other type of accident.

If your family member has died due to another person’s negligence, an experienced California wrongful death attorney can help you recover the compensation that you are entitled to under the law. With law offices throughout Northern California, the Kuvara Law Firm represents Californians throughout the state who have been injured in all types of accidents, as well as their loved ones. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of surviving loved ones. This claim is brought against the party responsible for the accident that caused the preventable death of your loved one. Your wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal charges pursued against the negligent party.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Under Florida’s “Right to Action” legislature, a wrongful death claim can be brought by a representative of the estate of the deceased person when the decedent’s death is caused by the wrongful act, breach of contract or warranty, or negligence of a responsible party. The estate representative must provide a list of intended recipients of damages when filing the claim. A wrongful death claim in Florida allows surviving parents, spouses, children, blood relatives, adoptive siblings, adult children (when there is no spouse), and parents of minor children to recover damages.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?

Under most circumstances, the statute of limitations for a Florida wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. In instances where medical malpractice is discovered to have caused the death of a patient, survivors have two years from the date of the malpractice incident caused death OR two years from when the initiating medical event was discovered or should reasonably have been discovered to file. In cases of wrongful death where medical malpractice was later discovered as the cause, there is a maximum time limit of four years from the date of the incident.

What are the types of wrongful death claims?

There are two types of wrongful death claims loved ones can file after a fatal accident. These are survivor claims and bystander claims. A survivor claim is filed by family members and dependents left behind after the preventable death. A bystander claim is similar to a survivor claim, but also accounts for the additional trauma incurred when the survivor is a witness to the fatal accident.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

Wrongful death lawsuits are specifically authorized by California law. Under this statute, only certain family members can bring a claim. This includes:

While other loved ones may suffer as a result of a wrongful death, they cannot file a claim in California unless they fall into one of these categories. Only “survivors” — as defined by law — can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Survivors can bring a wrongful death action for any type of accident or injury that was caused by another person’s negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, or intentionally wrongful conduct. Essentially, if a loved one dies because someone else did something careless or wrong, then their survivors may be able to file a wrongful death claim. This includes matters such as assault and battery, elder abuse, motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, and medical malpractice.

Wrongful death claims are sometimes paired with survival actions. This is a type of personal injury lawsuit that survivors can file on behalf of the deceased’s estate. The difference between these two types of claims is that a wrongful death lawsuit compensates surviving family members for their losses, while a survival action compensates the deceased person’s estate.

Survival actions can be filed for two types of losses. First, a survival action can be filed for claims that are unrelated to the death which the deceased had a right to sue for at the time of their death. Second, if the deceased survived an injury for some period of time prior to their death, a claim can be brought for that injury. 

Legal claims generally must be filed within a certain period of time, known as the statute of limitations. Wrongful death claims, like other types of personal injury lawsuits, must be filed within 2 years. The clock starts to run on the statute of limitations in California wrongful death claims on the later of (1) the date of injury; or (2) 6 months after the date of death.

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?

In a wrongful death lawsuit, survivors can recover money for the value of the support that they reasonably could have expected to receive from the deceased if he or she had lived. There are two types of damages available in a wrongful death claim: economic and non-economic damages. Both are intended to compensate survivors for their losses.

Economic Damages

First, economic damages include tangible financial losses that the survivors or heirs may have suffered. In a typical personal injury case, this may include items such as medical bills and lost wages. In wrongful death claim, economic damages can include:

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate survivors for their intangible losses, such as the loss of the deceased’s:

Non-economic damages do not include recovery for the survivors’ pain and suffering, grief, or emotional distress that was caused by their loved one’s death. While it can be harder to prove non-economic damages, a personal injury lawyer will put together a demand to the insurance company for damages based on their experience and knowledge of similar cases.

Recovery for both economic and non-economic damages is limited to a specific period of time. Survivors can recover for the shorter of (1) the deceased’s life expectancy at the time of the wrongful act, or (2) the life expectancy of the plaintiff (survivor) at the time of the wrongful act. A person’s life expectancy is determined by the jury, taking into account factors such as occupation, health, and lifestyle.

Because these damages are limited to either the deceased or the survivor’s life expectancy, recovery in a wrongful death case can vary significantly based on the facts of the case. For example, a wrongful death claim involving a 34-year-old IT worker in Oakland will typically lead to a higher amount of compensatory damages than a case involving an 80-year-old retiree in Marin County.

Importantly, heirs in a wrongful death action cannot recover punitive damages in almost all cases, which are meant to punish a wrongdoer for their conduct. The only exception is if the deceased was killed in a felony homicide for which the defendant has been convicted. However, punitive damages may be available through a survival action, as described above.

We’re Here For You

If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of another person, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim with the help of a personal injury attorney. Through this type of lawsuit, you may be able to recover financial compensation. While money won’t make you whole again, it can help you move forward with your life after a loss.

The Kuvara Law Firm represents individuals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. We offer free case evaluations, where we will advise you about your claim, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.

To schedule your free consultation with our firm: Contact Us Online or call 1-8000-4-injury!