Wrongful Death Attorney in Los Angeles, California
Losing a loved one is never easy. When a case of wrongful death is involved, things can become even more complicated. If another person's actions resulted in your loved one’s death, you deserve the chance to seek justice on their behalf. At The Law Office of John Goalwin, we’re ready to help you do so.
If you’re looking to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death, turn to us for assistance. Attorney John Goalwin has spent the last 45 years practicing law in the Los Angeles area. He has the knowledge and experience needed to help you build a strong case.
Get started today by contacting us for a free consultation. The Law Office of John Goalwin proudly serves clients across Los Angeles, as well as those located in Van Nuys, Compton, Norwalk, and Torrance, California.
Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Filing a wrongful death claim won’t bring a person back, but it can hold the responsible party accountable so they can’t cause the same harm to other families. Winning your case can also provide you with a much-needed financial boost to help you to cover funeral and burial expenses, make up for lost income, and pay for other costs related to your loved one’s death.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in California?
A wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of another party’s unjust or negligent actions. Cases of wrongful death can involve incidents like car accidents, medical malpractice, and even intentional acts like homicide.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits vs. Criminal Charges
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil claims, meaning one private party is suing another. Criminal charges, on the other hand, can only be filed by the local, state, or federal government. If you choose to sue another person for wrongful death, they may also be charged with a crime like homicide, manslaughter, or another illegal act.
Another major difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal proceeding is the type of consequences a guilty party can receive. Wrongful death cases can only result in financial penalties (paying the decedent’s survivors a designated amount of compensation). If a person is convicted of a crime, they could be facing fines, as well as jail time or probation.
In order to convict someone of a crime, a judge or jury must find the defendant guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This burden of proof is not as high in civil claims. Liability in wrongful death cases must only be shown by a “preponderance of evidence,” meaning there is a greater than 50% chance that the defendant is responsible for the decedent's death.
It’s important to note that you can file a civil wrongful death claim against a person even if they are also facing criminal charges.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In the event of a wrongful death, only certain people are legally allowed to file a lawsuit on the decedent’s behalf. California's wrongful death statute permits the following people to file wrongful death claims:
The decedent's surviving spouse or domestic partner
The decedent's surviving children
The grandchildren of any deceased child of the decedent
Someone who can prove they were financially dependent on the decedent — like a parent or stepchild — can also file a wrongful death claim.
Statute of Limitations in California Wrongful Death Claims
According to California law, you have two years from the date of the decedent's death to file a wrongful death claim. Reach out to us at The Law Office of John Goalwin to learn more about the process.
Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Case
In cases of wrongful death, the term “damages” refers to the types of losses for which a survivor can seek compensation. California law breaks down damages into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are quantifiable and are used to compensate for things like:
The loss of financial support the survivor would have expected to receive from the decedent
The loss of gifts or benefits the survivor would have expected to receive
Funeral and burial expenses
The reasonable dollar value of household services that the decedent would have contributed
Non-economic damages are not quantifiable. They are meant to cover losses that can’t be reimbursed dollar-for-dollar, such as:
The love and affection the survivor received from the decedent
The survivor’s enjoyment of intimacy with the decedent
The guidance the survivor would have received from the decedent
California does not place a cap on damages in wrongful death claims. However, the state’s statutory limit on medical malpractice damages ($250,000) would apply to your case if it involves a healthcare provider's negligence.
Why Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Working with an attorney can help you avoid potential mistakes while navigating a wrongful death case. By consulting a professional, you’ll have access to knowledge that may help maximize the amount of compensation you are awarded. A wrongful death attorney may also be able to help you settle your case outside of court and avoid the costly and time-consuming litigation process.
Wrongful Death Attorney
Serving Los Angeles, California
Don’t go through the process of filing a wrongful death claim alone. Let our attorney at The Law Office of John Goalwin provide you with the compassionate and strategic counsel you deserve. If you need legal advice in Van Nuys, Compton, Norwalk, or Torrance, California, contact our office in Los Angeles to set up a free consultation. We’ve been skillfully representing clients for 45 years, and we’re ready to do the same for you.