Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing someone you love is heart wrenching, but it’s even more traumatic and devastating when that loss is a result of someone else’s negligent or careless actions. It’s understandable that your first thought probably isn’t about lawsuits. At Ellis Law, we understand that you need time to grieve and take care of yourself and your family. However, at some point, it’s a good idea to start looking into contacting a wrongful death attorney to see if you have a valid legal claim.
If you are unsure where to turn after losing a loved one to a preventable accident, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Ellis Law. We can focus on obtaining compensation and justice for your loved one through a California wrongful death lawsuit allowing you and your family the opportunity to grieve and recover from your loss. We will make the process as stress-free as possible for you.
At Ellis Law, our wrongful death attorneys are:
- Compassionate and empathetic regarding the sensitive nature of wrongful death claims;
- Experienced and honest when offering advice about pursuing a wrongful death case; and
- Communicative and respectful of families dealing with the loss of a loved one.
We offer personalized service to families and will gladly answer any questions you have regarding your legal rights. We treat all of our clients like they are the most important person in the room – and that’s because they are. We want to make sure you’re comfortable sharing the details of your case with us so we can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact Ellis Law’s wrongful death attorneys to review the facts of your loved one’s case. We offer a free consultation, so there is no cost and no risk to you and your family. The most you’ll spend is a little bit of your time.
Learn more about a potential wrongful death claim today by calling the offices of Ellis Law in Los Angeles. We are caring attorneys ready to fight for you and your family.
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What Can a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney Do for Me?
Wrongful death claims are one of the most complicated and challenging legal claims, and there is no reason to navigate a wrongful death claim alone. Experienced legal representation provides you and your family with a number of benefits, the least of which is taking the burden associated with a wrongful death claim off of your shoulders.
The wrongful death attorneys at Ellis Law know that no amount of compensation can ever replace your loved one. However, recovery for your loved one’s unexpected death can help pay any final medical bills, funeral expenses, and replace support that your family relied upon. We can also help you recover compensation based on the support that you and your family were counting on in the future for life’s necessities.
At Ellis Law, attorneys will handle your wrongful death claim from start to finish and stand beside you throughout the entire claims process. This includes but is not limited to:
- Managing all insurance company communications. There’s no reason for you to speak with any insurance companies on your own right after an accident. It’s always important to contact a lawyer first to make sure you’re taking all of the correct steps to ensure you receive everything that you’re entitled to, and to make sure you don’t say or do anything inappropriate that might harm your case.
- Contacting bill collectors and informing them of when to expect payment. It’s important that you don’t start paying bills right away. You want to make sure that you actually owe the money before you pay it. Additionally, we might be able to help you come to an agreement with your creditors so they will allow you to pay less than what the bill amount owed actually is.
- Investigating your loved one’s death. This includes determining what happened and why it happened. For example, if the death was a result of medical negligence, we will request all medical records and any other internal documents we can obtain from the hospital. If the death of your loved one was a result of a car accident, we will speak with witnesses, obtain any relevant video footage from bystanders, nearby stores, or traffic cameras, and in some circumstances, speak to an accident reconstruction expert to help determine liability.
- Collecting relevant evidence. This often includes photos of the scene, medical records, insurance policies, and video footage.
- Identifying all possible sources of compensation. We will help you determine who is liable and who you might be able to sue for damages. For example, if the death was a result of medical malpractice, we can help determine if you can sue the doctor, the hospital, nurses, or other medical professionals involved. In some cases, the answer to this question might be that you can sue all of the above. We can help you find the best strategy.
- Calculating the total present and future costs and losses as a result of your loved one’s death. This will include lost wages, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other losses you might incur.
- Aggressively negotiating with insurance companies to obtain a fair and just settlement. Most insurance companies will offer a very low settlement in the hopes that the decedent’s family wants to settle and finish the case as quickly as possible. While it’s true that most wrongful death claims are resolved before they get to trial, you should only accept an offer that makes sense. This will mean weighing not only how much they’re offering you, but also calculating how much time and stress it would add to your life to go to trial.
- Taking your wrongful death case to court if the insurance company refuses to pay sufficient compensation. If we can’t reach a settlement agreement, the experienced attorneys at Ellis Law can help you win your case in court. All of our lawyers are dedicated and artful litigators. We will do whatever it takes to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Let the dedicated and determined wrongful death attorneys at Ellis Law hold any responsible party(s) accountable for the harm they caused you and your family. Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary consultation with our legal team. There is no obligation associated with your appointment so let our attorneys answer your questions and help to put your mind at ease.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death is a death due to the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, omission, or fault of another. A wrongful death claim is an insurance claim for monetary compensation made by a family member or representative of a deceased person’s estate. Wrongful death claims generally arise from personal injury accidents.
Some common accidents resulting in wrongful death claims are as follows:
- Car accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Slip and fall injuries;
- Medical malpractice accidents;
- Construction accidents;
- Firearm accidents;
- Drownings; and
- Intentional acts of violence.
A wrongful death lawsuit is separate from a criminal prosecution. The criminal prosecution of a death is a homicide. The state brings a homicide case against the perpetrator of the homicide to punish them with jail, prison, probation, or another state-sanctioned criminal method of punishment.
Elements Of A Wrongful Death Claim
In order to be successful in court for a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove the following elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent. In most cases, this is the easiest element to prove. If the wrongful death was a result of medical malpractice, you will need to show that the doctor or other medical professional owed a duty of care to the decedent. By simply being their doctor or operating on them, the medical professional almost certainly owed them a duty of care. If your loved one’s death was the result of a car accident, it’s easy to prove that the other driver had a duty of care. Generally, all drivers who get behind the wheel have a duty to drive safely and follow the law anytime they’re driving. If the accident was on a public roadway in California, this will be a simple element to prove
- The defendant breached the duty. Next, you must show that the defendant breached the duty of care. In a car accident claim, this can be shown by providing evidence that the driver responsible for the accident was texting, drunk, speeding, or distracted and driving in an unsafe manner for any reason. If it’s a medical malpractice issue, you can show a breach of duty by providing evidence that the defendant’s conduct deviated from how a reasonable and prudent professional would have normally behaved under the same or similar circumstances.
- The breach caused the injury or death. The third element is providing evidence that the medical professional’s breach or negligence actually caused the injury or death of the patient. It’s not enough to simply show that the doctor did something negligent or made a mistake of some kind. If there are no negative consequences from that particular mistake, you won’t be successful. There has to be a causal relationship.
- The loss of the decedent caused losses to you and other claimants. Finally, to be successful in a wrongful death claim, you must provide evidence that you and other claimants actually suffered a loss as a result of your loved one’s death.
Statute of Limitations
If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, it’s important to contact an experienced lawyer right away. You must file your claim within a certain amount of time, otherwise you won’t be able to recover any compensation, even if you otherwise would have been legally entitled to it. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of your loved one’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In California, there are specific parties eligible to file a wrongful death claim. These are the following:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse;
- The deceased person’s domestic partner; and
- The deceased person’s surviving children.
If financially dependent on the deceased and able to prove it, the following can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California:
- The surviving alleged spouse and children of the alleged spouse;
- The surviving stepchildren;
- The surviving parents of the deceased.
If none of the above are living, then a wrongful death claim is available to anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession,” such as the deceased person’s siblings.
For more information about California intestate succession and eligibility to file a wrongful death claim, it is wise to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
The amount of compensation available in a wrongful death claim in California depends on the facts of the individual case. However, the types of damages do not vary. Damages are divided between compensation for monetary losses, known as economic damages, and compensation for personal losses or non-economic damages.
Compensation for economic damages associated with the death and are meant to reimburse the estate. They have fixed dollar amounts and may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Medical and hospital bills for the deceased prior to death; and
- Lost income and income potential for the deceased.
In California, there is no cap on the amount of economic damages you can recover. This means the jury can award whatever they determine appropriate to cover any expenses related to your loved one’s death.
Compensation for non-economic damages are tailored to the surviving family members and may include:
- The value of household services;
- Loss of love; and
- Loss of companionship.
Wrongful death claims in California need filed within two years of the date of death. Otherwise, compensation is barred.
In addition to a wrongful death claim, it might also be possible to file what’s called a survival action. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate survivors and loved ones for their loss, whereas a survival action is intended to compensate the decedent’s estate for losses they suffered prior to their death. In a survival action, compensation can be recovered in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and more. This type of action essentially allows the decedent’s estate to recover damages that the decedent would’ve been entitled to recover had they not passed away.
In order to recover compensation and file a successful survival action, it’s required that the decedent lived for at least a period of time between the accident and the time they passed away – even if it was just for one minute.
One of the primary reasons a survival action would be initiated is in an attempt to recover punitive damages. In wrongful death suits, punitive damages are not recoverable in California, so a survival action is sometimes a good option for the decedent’s estate. This type of action must be brought within 2 years from the date of the wrongful act, or 6 months after death, whichever is later.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney
If you would like to learn more about wrongful death claims in California, contact the experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Ellis Law. Our legal team will review your loved one’s case, answer your questions about wrongful death claims and address your concerns to help set your mind at ease going forward with your case. At Ellis Law, we want to help you and your family hold any negligent parties accountable for the death of your loved one and secure the compensation you need to continue with your lives as comfortably as possible.