Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer

Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful deaths occur often and for many different reasons. Negligent drivers, careless medical providers, defective products, and dangerous workplaces can all cause preventable fatal accidents, which are just some of the causes. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence, you may be entitled to significant compensation under California’s wrongful death laws. In addition to the grief and devastation, you may also be dealing with unexpected expenses. The wrongful death lawyers at Steinger, Greene & Feiner in Los Angeles are ready to identify the party or parties responsible for the death, hold them responsible, and secure maximum compensation to cover your losses.

Wrongful Death in Los Angeles

Wrongful death is a type of tort claim that allows surviving family members to seek financial compensation for the death of a loved one. If any kind of tort, or wrongdoing, is to blame for an injury that proved fatal for the victim, the person or entity responsible for the tort will have to pay damages.

According to California Code of Civil Procedure Chapter 377 Section 60, a wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” This law gives you the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party who caused the death. The suit can reimburse families for economic damages and related losses, including burial and funeral expenses, and hold the at-fault party accountable.

Common causes of wrongful death include:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products

A wrongful death claim is not a criminal trial, meaning it’s not a murder or homicide trial. It’s a claim brought to civil court to hold a defendant civilly—not criminally—liable for the victim’s death. You may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit whether the at-fault party committed a crime or not. If the at-fault party did commit intentional misconduct or a crime, you can file a wrongful death claim at the same time as an ongoing criminal trial against the defendant. 

The Role of a Wrongful Death Lawyer

A Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer will gather all the necessary evidence to prove that the negligence or recklessness of the at-fault party or parties directly contributed to the death of your loved one. They will hold this party accountable in civil court and fight to secure the highest possible compensation to help you recover financially. 

Your lawyer will handle all legal matters and communications, including:

  • Investigating the accident
  • Collecting evidence or proof of negligence
  • Identifying the defendant(s) (at-fault party or parties)
  • Obtaining the decedent’s (deceased’s) medical records
  • Completing and filing all claim documents
  • Proving the victim’s and family’s losses, both financial and emotional
  • Building a case against the defendant(s)
  • Demanding maximum compensation from the insurance companies of at-fault parties
  • Taking the claim to trial in LA county, if necessary

Losing a loved one, especially unexpectedly, can be completely devastating and overwhelming. In this situation, you shouldn’t have to worry about the complexities of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. When you work with an attorney, they will do all the work needed to build a convincing case and advocate for you so insurance companies don’t take advantage of you during a vulnerable time. 

We know money cannot make up for the death of a loved one. But you may be facing unexpected expenses or a sudden loss of income, and you’re entitled to fair compensation to cover these losses. An attorney will accurately value the extent of your losses and secure this amount from the at-fault party’s insurance company.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Los Angeles?

Surviving spouses, domestic partners, and children of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim, according to California Code of Civil Procedure Chapter 377 Section 30.  Other parties who can file suit include:

  • Grandchildren (if the deceased’s children are no longer living)
  • Parents or siblings if there are no living spouses or children
  • Stepchildren or other minors who were financially dependent on the deceased for at least 50% of their financial support
  • Other parties who could inherit from the deceased under the California law of intestate succession

To bring a claim for wrongful death, you must have evidence that the cause of death was most likely the result of the negligent or intentional actions of the party (person, company, etc.) you’re naming in your claim.

Types of Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases

Damages for wrongful death cases can be divided into two categories: ones to compensate the deceased’s estate for losses associated with the death or ones to compensate the deceased’s surviving family members for the losses they’ve suffered as a result of the death.

Losses that are often associated with the estate can include:

  • Medical bills or costs incurred during the deceased’s final injury or illness
  • Funeral and any other burial expenses
  • Lost income, including future income the deceased would have been expected to earn 

Losses surviving family members can recover include:

  • Loss of anticipated income
  • Value of other household contributions
  • Lost prospect of inheritance
  • Loss of love, companionship, emotional support, and guidance (loss of consortium)

The Process of Wrongful Death Claims

Statute of Limitations

There is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles, which comes from a law called a statute of limitations. According to California law, plaintiffs (surviving family members) have two years from the date of a loved one’s death to file a claim. 

Under the discovery rule, you may have two years from the date that you discovered—or should have discovered through reasonable diligence—the cause of the death. This means that you can still file suit if you did not recognize that that negligent behavior caused the death until later.

For cases of medical malpractice or claims against the government, you have less than two years to file. If you miss the statute of limitations, you may be ineligible to receive any compensation for your loved one’s death, even if your lawyer can prove negligence. The defendant can use the missed deadline as a defense against their liability for the fatal accident. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

To protect your right to seek compensation after a wrongful death, you should speak with an attorney to begin your claim as soon as possible. Not only does this ensure that you don’t miss the statute of limitations, but it also helps your attorney gather and preserve evidence and memories while they are fresh. 

Once you’ve spoken to an attorney and confirmed you have legal standing to file a claim, you should prepare and file a civil lawsuit. Start by filing a complaint or petition with the court that provides notice and the factual and legal grounds for your lawsuit. Next, file a summons notifying the defendant that they are being sued with pertinent information.

After you’ve filed the petition with the court, you must undertake “service of process.” Since all defendants in a lawsuit have the right to defend themselves, the court requires this procedure to ensure the defendant in your case has been properly notified they’re being sued. Failure to properly execute the service of process can result in your lawsuit being thrown out. 

A wrongful death attorney will handle all this legal paperwork and ensure it’s filed on time. 

Proving a Wrongful Death Claim

Your attorney will then build a case demonstrating that the at-fault party acted recklessly or failed to act and caused the death of your loved one. The burden of proof in your case is based on the legal theory of negligence, which is made up of four main elements that your attorney must prove to be more likely true than not true.

  1. Duty of care owed: The defendant must have owed the victim a duty to exercise reasonable care. The specific responsibilities owed to the victim will depend on their relationship with the defendant. For example, a surgeon must perform a procedure with the amount of skill and care that would be reasonably expected of a competent surgeon. 
  2. Duty of care breached or violated: There must be proof the defendant breached their duty of care to the victim. A breach can refer to any action or inaction that falls outside the defendant’s duty of care. If another person would have done something differently, the defendant may be guilty of a breach of duty. 
  3. Accident or injury caused: The defendant’s misconduct or recklessness must be the actual cause of your loved one’s fatal injury. Your attorney needs to prove that your loved one’s death more likely than not would not have occurred had the defendant obeyed their duty of care.
  4. Damages incurred: Your family will need proof that the defendant’s negligence caused you compensable losses. Your attorney will help list and estimate the value of the damages that accompanied your loved one’s death, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, funeral expenses, and mental anguish.

Selecting the Right Wrongful Death Attorney

When selecting a wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles, you must be sure they have experience handling your specific case type and bringing claims to trial if necessary. Your lawyer should not charge fees upfront, showing they have your best interest at heart. 

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our wrongful death lawyers have been securing compensation for families and victims of auto accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, and other types of negligence for more than 25 years. We know how to navigate the complicated regulations affecting these cases, hold negligent parties accountable, and negotiate with insurance companies to recover maximum compensation for all losses.

We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we charge no fees until we win your case. 

Client Testimonials

Our former clients report complete satisfaction with the way we handled their cases. Hear why we’re the leading wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles.

Get Help From a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer

As soon as you discover a loved one’s fatal injuries were the result of someone else’s carelessness, you should contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles. Although money will never be enough to make up for the loss, you and your family deserve significant compensation for your emotional and financial losses. 

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we’re ready to hold negligent parties accountable and secure maximum compensation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case consultation.