Wrongful Death and Survival Action Lawyer

When someone suffers fatal injuries due to another person’s negligence or a dangerous and defective product, the deceased person’s surviving family members seldom give more than the most fleeting of thoughts during their time of grief to filing legal action against the responsible parties. Yet, in so many cases, the financial recovery that may be obtained through a wrongful-death action provides one of the only means of continued support for the family. These actions may also allow family members the opportunity to achieve a small measure of justice from those who have caused their loved one’s suffering and death.

Under California law, certain of a deceased person’s survivors may be entitled to bring a wrongful-death action against the parties responsible for a family member’s death. In addition, certain legal actions that were commenced by the decedent prior to the decedent’s death or that might have been commenced by the decedent if the decedent had lived may be continued or brought as survival actions after the decedent’s death by the decedent’s personal representative or successor in interest.

The Killino Firm’s Los Angeles wrongful-death and survival-action lawyers have extensive experience with a wide variety of wrongful-death and survival actions. If one of your family members has died as a result of an accident caused by a defective product or someone’s negligence or other wrongdoing, The Killino Firm LA can help you obtain the compensation to which you and your family are entitled. Contact The Killino Firm at 213-623-2544 for a cost-free evaluation of your case and additional information about your legal rights and options.

Wrongful-death Actions

Wrongful-death actions are generally governed by wrongful-death statutes, which vary somewhat from state to state. California’s wrongful-death law allows a decedent’s survivors to bring a wrongful-death action against entities or persons who have allegedly caused a decedent’s death through wrongful act or neglect. Ca. Civ. Pro. §377.60. Individuals allowed to bring such actions under California law include only those persons defined as decedents’ survivors under the statute. Thus, a California decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and descendants of the decedent’s deceased children may bring a wrongful-death action against parties responsible for the decedent’s death.

wrongful death attorney laIn cases in which a decedent has left no survivors, anyone who would be entitled to inherit from a decedent by intestate succession (including a decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner) may bring a wrongful-death action against the responsible parties. Ca. Civ. Pro. §377.60(a). Such actions may also be brought by persons who were dependent on a decedent, by a decedent’s stepchildren and parents, and by the putative spouse of a decedent (i.e., the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was still valid). Ca. Civ. Pro. §377.60(b). Any minor (whether or not related to a decedent by blood or marriage) who had lived in the decedent’s household for the 180 days immediately prior to the decedent’s death and who had depended on the decedent for at least 50% of his or her support may bring a wrongful-death action to recover damages suffered by the minor as a result of the decedent’s death. Ca. Civ. Pro. §377.60(c).

Wrongful-death actions may be brought in California by a decedent’s survivors or, in the alternative, by the personal representative of a decedent’s estate on behalf of the decedent’s survivors. Ca. Civ. Pro. §377.60. Wrongful-death actions are generally required to be filed within two years of a decedent’s death. Ca.Civ.Pro. §335.1. If a decedent’s death is alleged to have been caused by medical or healthcare-provider malpractice, however, the action must be commenced within one year after the injury was discovered or should have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence but not later than three years after the date the decedent’s injury occurred. Ca.Civ.Pro. §340.5. As wrongful-death recoveries are intended to compensate decedents’ survivors for damages survivors have suffered as a result of decedents’ deaths, the damages are paid directly to survivors rather than to decedents’ estates. Under California law, wrongful-death damages may include amounts that are deemed just under all the circumstances of a case but may not include damages recoverable in survival actions under Ca. Civ. Pro. §377.34. Ca.Civ.Pro. §377.61.

Survival Actions

In some cases, a deceased person may have commenced a personal-injury or other action before his or her death. A decedent may also have had the right to commence a legal action prior to his or her death but did not have the opportunity to do so. Under California law, such actions are considered to “survive” a decedent’s death as long as applicable statutes of limitations have not run. Ca. Civ. Pro. §§377.20, 377.21. Actions that were commenced prior to a decedent’s death may be continued as survival actions by a decedent’s successor in interest or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, while actions that might have been brought by a decedent if the decedent had lived may be commenced as survival actions by the same plaintiffs. Any damages recovered in such actions will be paid to a decedent’s estate and will be limited to losses or damages sustained by the decedent before his or her death. Survival-action damages may include penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover if the decedent had lived but may not include damages for pain, suffering, and/or disfigurement suffered by a decedent prior to death. Ca. Civ. Pro. §§377.30, 377.31, 377.34.

Contact Us

The Killino Firm’s Los Angeles lawyers have extensive experience with wrongful-death and survival actions, including those arising out of car, motorcycle, and truck accidents, accidents caused by defective products, medical malpractice, or other wrongdoing, birth injuries, child injuries, and brain injuries. If one of your family members has died as a result of someone’s negligence or a dangerous and defective product, The Killino Firm is ready to help you fight for the justice you and your family members deserve. Contact The Killino Firm at 213-623-2544 for compassionate yet aggressive assistance with your wrongful-death or survival-action case.

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