THE BARIC BLOG

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in California: An Overview by Baric Law

Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a claim made against a person who can be held liable for causing the death of another person. These claims are filed in civil court and are entirely separate from any criminal charges that may also be filed in relation to the same death. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act, understanding wrongful death claims is crucial. This comprehensive guide, brought to you by Baric Law, will provide you with a detailed understanding of wrongful death claims in California.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of another person’s legal fault, usually due to negligence. This negligence may manifest in various forms including negligence-based accidents, medical malpractice, or intentional acts and crimes. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil lawsuits, meaning that the court awards financial compensation to the decedent’s survivors rather than doling out punishment in the form of prison time or other penalties. It is possible for criminal charges to be brought against a defendant and a civil suit also to be filed by the family of the deceased. These, however, will be two separate trials​​. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases arise from a variety of different circumstances. The circumstances involved would generally have allowed the decedent the right to file a personal injury claim if they had survived. The right to sue for damages is passed on to the survivors. Common examples of wrongful death cases include auto accidents, slips and falls, workplace accidents, defective or faulty products, dog bites, toxic torts, assault and battery, medical malpractice, and drowning​​.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In California, the following people are legally allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • The deceased person’s surviving children
  • If there is no surviving person in the decedent’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” California Code, Code of Civil Procedure – CCP § 377.60

In the event that the decedent has no surviving descendants, then a lawsuit may be brought by anyone who is entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession. This can include the parents and siblings of the decedent. Other parties may also bring a lawsuit if they can prove that they were finally dependent on the decedent​2​.

Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims in California allow for recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income, and loss of potential future earnings. Non-economic damages are more challenging to prove because they can’t easily be assigned a dollar value. These damages include pain and suffering, and loss of companionship or consortium​2​.

Understanding Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

Several types of damages can be claimed in a wrongful death suit, including but not limited to:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income, including potential income the deceased person would reasonably have expected to earn in the future had they lived
  • Loss of companionship and support

California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

The Role of Negligence in Wrongful Death Claims

In the context of wrongful death claims, negligence refers to the failure of an individual or entity to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent, that the defendant breached that duty of care, and that the defendant’s actions or inactions directly resulted in the death.

Understanding Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Claims

In the state of California, there are two types of claims that can be made after the death of an individual: a wrongful death claim and a survival action. While a wrongful death claim seeks damages for the loss suffered by the decedent’s loved ones, a survival action seeks damages for the losses the decedent suffered before their death due to the defendant’s wrongful act. It is important to note that a survival action can only be brought if the decedent did not immediately die from their injuries​.

The Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

Filing a wrongful death claim involves a series of complex steps that should be guided by an experienced wrongful death attorney. These steps can include an investigation, filing a lawsuit, discovery, negotiations, and possibly a trial. California Courts – The Judicial Branch of California

Conclusion

Pursuing a wrongful death claim in California can be a complex, emotionally draining process. However, with the right knowledge and guidance, it is possible to navigate these challenging waters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the legal process can be tricky, particularly when it comes to specific wrongful death regulations in Southern California. Here are answers to seven of the most frequently asked questions:

A wrongful death case is one where a person’s death is caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

In California, siblings can only file a wrongful death claim if there are no surviving children, spouse, or parents, and they are the next in line to inherit according to California’s intestate succession laws. California Probate Code § 6402

The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit in California can vary widely, depending on the complexity of the case, the parties involved, and the court’s schedule. It can range from a few months to several years. California Courts – The Judicial Branch of California

Compensation in a wrongful death case is typically calculated based on several factors, including the deceased’s income at the time of death, the projected future earnings, and the non-economic damages such as loss of companionship. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

Yes, even if the deceased never held a job, their next of kin could still be entitled to compensation for loss of potential income, household services the deceased would have provided, and non-economic damages like emotional distress. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

Generally, compensation received from a wrongful death settlement for physical injury or physical sickness is not taxable. However, certain components of the settlement may be taxable, such as punitive damages and interest. Internal Revenue Service

If a wrongful death claim is successful, the court will award damages to the plaintiff(s). The amount of damages awarded will vary depending on the specifics of the case, including the deceased’s earnings, the financial and emotional impact on the survivors, and more. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

About Steve Baric

A former prosecutor, Steve Baric is a leading attorney in Southern California with a commendable track record. For over 25 years, he has been fighting for justice, securing over $100 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients. As one of America’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Steve brings unmatched expertise to every case he handles.

Contact Steve Baric for a free case review at (833) 467-2022
Email sbaric@bariclaw.com
SMS Text (949) 570-9165

NEED HELP?

Our team is here to assist you. Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your case in a no-obligation consultation.

Kathleen Monroe
Kathleen Monroe
2023-10-26
All attorneys are not created equal. Steve Baric is in a class by himself. I would give him 10 STARS but it only went up to 5. I had hired the wrong attorney who did ZERO and Steve jumped in and became my HERO! Losing your quality of life & pain & suffering are real. Insurance companies try to minimize your injuries and damages in spite of their insured's negligence. When Steve earnestly told me he would FIGHT FOR ME...I knew I had finally found the right attorney. He is super smart, strategic, compassionate to his client's pain and suffering & most of all he is laser focused on results. He thinks outside the box. I have so much gratitude for Steve Baric. If you are looking for a PI Attorney...forget the rest...Steve Baric is the BEST!
Kevin Muldoon
Kevin Muldoon
2023-08-10
Great law firm with an experienced trial attorney not afraid to go to trial.
Ford Prepon
Ford Prepon
2023-08-09
Mr. Baric is a very professional attorney. He has led me step by step in what to do, and what to expect in my case. He communicates often, and his team is wonderful, answers all my questions any time I call. I feel very lucky to have found such a caring team to represent me. Mr. Baric is a very professional attorney. He has led me step by step in what to do, and what to expect in my case. He communicates often, and his team is wonderful, answers all my questions any time I call. I feel very lucky to have found such a caring team to represent me.
Amanda Roberts
Amanda Roberts
2023-08-09
I only reached out through email and text, but there was a few times that I was rudely talked to by staff. But they did get my medical bills reduced tremendously.
Ak Subramanian
Ak Subramanian
2023-08-08
Baric Law firm is a good firm and would recommend to anybody who is looking for a good representation. I never had a hard time getting in contact with my lawyer Steve Baric. Team was always professional and respectful and kept me updated with my case they also made wellness calls to see how I was doing.
Miriam Lopez
Miriam Lopez
2023-08-03
Me and my son were involved in a car accident, and I was referred to Baric Law firm by a friend. Since my son was a minor at the time. I handled everything for him. I was very impressed with Steve Baric from the beginning to the end. Very caring and always their to answer my calls whenever I had a question. Thankfully the accident was not as bad and my son and I suffered minor injuries. They constantly followed up with my son and I, to make sure we were improving, they also helped me with my car repair. They negotiated on our behalf and got us a great settlement amount. Everyone in the office is kind and knowledgeable. My son and I were very happy with the compensation we received. Thank you.
Alex O.
Alex O.
2023-08-02
Steve Baric and his team are outstanding and meticulous in their work. From the moment you seek their legal counsel, to the very end, you know this team puts in a very good fight. The Baric’s staff are very attentive to your needs and professional about how they handle your case. I highly recommend them and stop thanking them for their help.
Nichole Calandrella
Nichole Calandrella
2023-08-01
Steve Baric and Baric Law are the best of the best. Highly knowledgeable about a range of legal issues, and the impressive ability to communicate and act on that knowledge. Steve is able to tackle your case quickly, and with his experience, you feel comfortable and in capable hands. I highly recommend Baric Law.
Patricia Welch-Foster
Patricia Welch-Foster
2023-07-29
Knowledgeable and hard working firm to ensure the best outcome for their clients

THE BARIC BLOG

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in California: An Overview by Baric Law

Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a claim made against a person who can be held liable for causing the death of another person. These claims are filed in civil court and are entirely separate from any criminal charges that may also be filed in relation to the same death. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act, understanding wrongful death claims is crucial. This comprehensive guide, brought to you by Baric Law, will provide you with a detailed understanding of wrongful death claims in California.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of another person’s legal fault, usually due to negligence. This negligence may manifest in various forms including negligence-based accidents, medical malpractice, or intentional acts and crimes. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil lawsuits, meaning that the court awards financial compensation to the decedent’s survivors rather than doling out punishment in the form of prison time or other penalties. It is possible for criminal charges to be brought against a defendant and a civil suit also to be filed by the family of the deceased. These, however, will be two separate trials​​. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases arise from a variety of different circumstances. The circumstances involved would generally have allowed the decedent the right to file a personal injury claim if they had survived. The right to sue for damages is passed on to the survivors. Common examples of wrongful death cases include auto accidents, slips and falls, workplace accidents, defective or faulty products, dog bites, toxic torts, assault and battery, medical malpractice, and drowning​​.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In California, the following people are legally allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • The deceased person’s surviving children
  • If there is no surviving person in the decedent’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” California Code, Code of Civil Procedure – CCP § 377.60

In the event that the decedent has no surviving descendants, then a lawsuit may be brought by anyone who is entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession. This can include the parents and siblings of the decedent. Other parties may also bring a lawsuit if they can prove that they were finally dependent on the decedent​2​.

Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims in California allow for recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income, and loss of potential future earnings. Non-economic damages are more challenging to prove because they can’t easily be assigned a dollar value. These damages include pain and suffering, and loss of companionship or consortium​2​.

Understanding Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

Several types of damages can be claimed in a wrongful death suit, including but not limited to:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income, including potential income the deceased person would reasonably have expected to earn in the future had they lived
  • Loss of companionship and support

California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

The Role of Negligence in Wrongful Death Claims

In the context of wrongful death claims, negligence refers to the failure of an individual or entity to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent, that the defendant breached that duty of care, and that the defendant’s actions or inactions directly resulted in the death.

Understanding Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Claims

In the state of California, there are two types of claims that can be made after the death of an individual: a wrongful death claim and a survival action. While a wrongful death claim seeks damages for the loss suffered by the decedent’s loved ones, a survival action seeks damages for the losses the decedent suffered before their death due to the defendant’s wrongful act. It is important to note that a survival action can only be brought if the decedent did not immediately die from their injuries​.

The Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

Filing a wrongful death claim involves a series of complex steps that should be guided by an experienced wrongful death attorney. These steps can include an investigation, filing a lawsuit, discovery, negotiations, and possibly a trial. California Courts – The Judicial Branch of California

Conclusion

Pursuing a wrongful death claim in California can be a complex, emotionally draining process. However, with the right knowledge and guidance, it is possible to navigate these challenging waters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the legal process can be tricky, particularly when it comes to specific wrongful death regulations in Southern California. Here are answers to seven of the most frequently asked questions:

A wrongful death case is one where a person’s death is caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

In California, siblings can only file a wrongful death claim if there are no surviving children, spouse, or parents, and they are the next in line to inherit according to California’s intestate succession laws. California Probate Code § 6402

The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit in California can vary widely, depending on the complexity of the case, the parties involved, and the court’s schedule. It can range from a few months to several years. California Courts – The Judicial Branch of California

Compensation in a wrongful death case is typically calculated based on several factors, including the deceased’s income at the time of death, the projected future earnings, and the non-economic damages such as loss of companionship. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

Yes, even if the deceased never held a job, their next of kin could still be entitled to compensation for loss of potential income, household services the deceased would have provided, and non-economic damages like emotional distress. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

Generally, compensation received from a wrongful death settlement for physical injury or physical sickness is not taxable. However, certain components of the settlement may be taxable, such as punitive damages and interest. Internal Revenue Service

If a wrongful death claim is successful, the court will award damages to the plaintiff(s). The amount of damages awarded will vary depending on the specifics of the case, including the deceased’s earnings, the financial and emotional impact on the survivors, and more. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921 – Wrongful Death

About Steve Baric

A former prosecutor, Steve Baric is a leading attorney in Southern California with a commendable track record. For over 25 years, he has been fighting for justice, securing over $100 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients. As one of America’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Steve brings unmatched expertise to every wrongful death case he handles.

Contact Steve Baric for a free case review at (833) 467-2022
Email sbaric@bariclaw.com
SMS Text (949) 570-9165

NEED HELP?

Our team is here to assist you. Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your case in a no-obligation consultation.

Kathleen Monroe
Kathleen Monroe
2023-10-26
All attorneys are not created equal. Steve Baric is in a class by himself. I would give him 10 STARS but it only went up to 5. I had hired the wrong attorney who did ZERO and Steve jumped in and became my HERO! Losing your quality of life & pain & suffering are real. Insurance companies try to minimize your injuries and damages in spite of their insured's negligence. When Steve earnestly told me he would FIGHT FOR ME...I knew I had finally found the right attorney. He is super smart, strategic, compassionate to his client's pain and suffering & most of all he is laser focused on results. He thinks outside the box. I have so much gratitude for Steve Baric. If you are looking for a PI Attorney...forget the rest...Steve Baric is the BEST!
Kevin Muldoon
Kevin Muldoon
2023-08-10
Great law firm with an experienced trial attorney not afraid to go to trial.
Ford Prepon
Ford Prepon
2023-08-09
Mr. Baric is a very professional attorney. He has led me step by step in what to do, and what to expect in my case. He communicates often, and his team is wonderful, answers all my questions any time I call. I feel very lucky to have found such a caring team to represent me. Mr. Baric is a very professional attorney. He has led me step by step in what to do, and what to expect in my case. He communicates often, and his team is wonderful, answers all my questions any time I call. I feel very lucky to have found such a caring team to represent me.
Amanda Roberts
Amanda Roberts
2023-08-09
I only reached out through email and text, but there was a few times that I was rudely talked to by staff. But they did get my medical bills reduced tremendously.
Ak Subramanian
Ak Subramanian
2023-08-08
Baric Law firm is a good firm and would recommend to anybody who is looking for a good representation. I never had a hard time getting in contact with my lawyer Steve Baric. Team was always professional and respectful and kept me updated with my case they also made wellness calls to see how I was doing.
Miriam Lopez
Miriam Lopez
2023-08-03
Me and my son were involved in a car accident, and I was referred to Baric Law firm by a friend. Since my son was a minor at the time. I handled everything for him. I was very impressed with Steve Baric from the beginning to the end. Very caring and always their to answer my calls whenever I had a question. Thankfully the accident was not as bad and my son and I suffered minor injuries. They constantly followed up with my son and I, to make sure we were improving, they also helped me with my car repair. They negotiated on our behalf and got us a great settlement amount. Everyone in the office is kind and knowledgeable. My son and I were very happy with the compensation we received. Thank you.
Alex O.
Alex O.
2023-08-02
Steve Baric and his team are outstanding and meticulous in their work. From the moment you seek their legal counsel, to the very end, you know this team puts in a very good fight. The Baric’s staff are very attentive to your needs and professional about how they handle your case. I highly recommend them and stop thanking them for their help.
Nichole Calandrella
Nichole Calandrella
2023-08-01
Steve Baric and Baric Law are the best of the best. Highly knowledgeable about a range of legal issues, and the impressive ability to communicate and act on that knowledge. Steve is able to tackle your case quickly, and with his experience, you feel comfortable and in capable hands. I highly recommend Baric Law.
Patricia Welch-Foster
Patricia Welch-Foster
2023-07-29
Knowledgeable and hard working firm to ensure the best outcome for their clients

“AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF ORANGE COUNTY, I COUNTED ON STEVE TO TRY THE TOUGHEST CASES WITH THE HIGHEST STAKES. HE NEVER MET A CASE HE COULDN'T HANDLE.”

~ Tony Rackauckas
Orange County District Attorney (Retired)

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