Wrongful Death Attorney Serving Los Angeles, Orange County, and Southern California
California law recognizes a cause of action “for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” This type of case is known as a wrongful death action, and it allows a surviving spouse, children, and sometimes other family members to hold the party responsible for the death accountable for the harm they have caused, not just to the deceased, but to the family left behind as well.
At Machtinger Law, we find that wrongful death actions are often the best and sometimes the only way for family members to achieve justice on behalf of their loved ones while also securing much-needed financial help following the loss of income and disruption caused by the loss of a beloved family member. Our firm focuses especially on cases involving serious, catastrophic injury or wrongful death, and we have a solid record and reputation for achieving significant results in the most serious cases.
Below you will find more information about how these claims are made in California. If you have lost a loved one in a Los Angeles County, Orange County, or Southern California car accident, premises liability accident, or from other form of negligence, call Machtinger Law to speak with an experienced and successful Southern California wrongful death attorney.
California Wrongful Death Lawsuits Are for the Benefit of Surviving Family Members
California’s wrongful death law recognizes the financial loss and other harm that family members must endure when a loved one is unexpectedly taken from them in a fatal car crash or otherwise by another party’s negligence. The state’s wrongful death law is primarily for the benefit of a surviving spouse or domestic partner as well as children of the deceased, or grandchildren if their parents are also deceased.
If there is no surviving spouse, children or grandchildren, then other family members who would inherit under California law can benefit from the proceeds of a wrongful death action. Certain other people who depended on the deceased for financial support could also be included in this instance, including stepchildren or minors who were living with the deceased.
Either the family members themselves or the person named as the representative of the estate can bring a wrongful death action against the party responsible for causing the death. In either case, the person bringing the action should hire an attorney to represent them, as they will either need to negotiate a fair amount with the insurance company or litigate the case in court to get a just result.
Courts Can Award any Damages That Seem Just
The California wrongful death statute does not elaborate on what types of money damages are available; instead, the law only says that the courts can award any damages that may be just under the circumstances. In a jury trial, juries are given some guidance about what they can award compensation for. These damages include:
- The loss of financial support the deceased would have contributed to the family over the remainder of a lifetime
- The loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support
- The loss of training and guidance
- The loss of enjoyment of sexual relations
- The loss of gifts or benefits the beneficiary would have expected to receive from the deceased
- The reasonable value of household services that would have been provided by the deceased
- Funeral and burial expenses
Even if your case doesn’t go to trial but settles out of court, the above guidelines can help determine what an appropriate settlement amount should be in your particular case.
Survival Actions Provide Additional Relief
California law also recognizes what are called survival actions. A survival action refers to a legal claim that someone had against another, although they died before they could file a lawsuit or finish a lawsuit they had started. The law allows another party, such as the representative of the estate, to carry on or bring that case as a survival action. The law also allows a survival action to be joined or consolidated with a wrongful death case when the basis of both lawsuits arose out of the same wrongful act or neglect.
Traditionally, the damages available in a survival action include the loss or damage suffered by the injury victim, such as medical expenses and lost income, as well as punitive or exemplary damages. Damages for pain and suffering or disfigurement were not included. However, a new law was passed that allows damages for pain, suffering, and disfigurement in a survival action.
Currently, this law will only be effective between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2026, unless the legislature decides to make it permanent. While the law is in effect, it has the potential to greatly increase the settlement or judgment in a survival action for the benefit of the estate’s beneficiaries. This law is also a significant step forward for justice, as it keeps defendants from dragging out a case against an ill or injured plaintiff or benefiting from the accident victim’s passing.
Get the Help You Need After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One in Los Angeles, Orange County, or Southern California
At Machtinger Law, we’ll pursue all available avenues for compensation after a fatal crash or other deadly accident, including filing wrongful death actions, survival actions, and seeking punitive damages in appropriate cases. Our attorneys have over 30 years of litigation experience and for the past twelve years and more have been focused exclusively on helping victims of serious, catastrophic injury and wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one in a Los Angeles, Orange County, or Southern California car accident, slip and fall, or other fatal accident, call Machtinger Law at 310-943-9300 to speak with a skilled and compassionate wrongful death attorney.