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San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer

350 10th Avenue, Suite 1000

San Diego, California 92101

(760) 991-0000

A sudden death is always a shock to the family and friends of the deceased, even more so when the death is the result of an accident or some other preventable cause. If the death can be traced back to the negligence or the intentional action of another person or persons, there may be grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible.

Under California state law, a wrongful death is a fatality that was caused by “… the wrongful act or neglect of another …” and there was no lawful justification for causing that death. The person or persons responsible for a wrongful death can be sued in the California courts and ordered to pay damages to the survivors of the deceased.

Although the circumstances can vary, wrongful death lawsuits can be usually be brought if the death was due to:

  • an accident of any type, except a work-related death
  • dangerous or unsafe premises
  • medical malpractice (but with a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages)
  • defective or unsafe consumer products

There are some deaths that can be classified as occurring under special circumstances (e.g. on the job, murder, manslaughter, suicide). Lawsuits related to deaths that are not clearly accidental should be discussed with a personal injury attorney as soon as is practical after the death has occurred.

Survivors Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim Under California Law

In general, people entitled to bring a wrongful death claim are those who would be entitled to inherit from the deceased in the absence of a will, as well as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

Although not complete, and not in order of survivorship rights, the following people may file a wrongful death claim:

  • The deceased’s spouse.
  • The deceased’s domestic partner, but only if the partnership was registered.
  • The deceased’s living children.
  • The children of any child of the deceased (grandchildren) if the child of the deceased is no longer living.
  • In the absence of surviving children, siblings of the deceased or any relative who would have inherited from the deceased.
  • The deceased’s stepchildren if dependent upon the deceased.
  • The deceased’s parents if dependent upon the deceased.

The Statutes of Limitations and Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The statutes of limitations are laws that specify the time limits under which a legal action such as a lawsuit must be filed. If a wrongful death lawsuit that is filed after the statute of limitations has expired it will be dismissed and all further legal actions related to the death in question will be barred.

The statutes of limitations in wrongful death are:

  • In general: within 2 years of the date of death.
  • Medical malpractice: within 1 year from the date the plaintiff discovers the alleged act of malpractice, or within 3 years of the discovery of the act itself.

An act resulting in death where the alleged responsible party is covered by the provisions of the California Tort Claims Act (essentially any city, county, or state government employee) has its own statute of limitations and special procedure for filing a wrongful death claim. These claims can be very complex and anyone considering such an action should contact an attorney as soon as possible after a death has occurred.

Finding a Wrongful Death Lawyer In the San Diego Area

As you can see from the preceding sections on this page, filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California is a complex task. In many cases it can be difficult to determine the exact circumstances of death, who was at fault in an accident, or even if a wrongful death claim is even warranted.

If you live in the Greater San Diego area and are considering a wrongful death claim, you should contact the San Diego wrongful death lawyer at the Doan Law Firm by calling (760) 991-0000 to discuss the facts regarding your case.

At the Doan Law Firm, you first consultation with our San Diego wrongful death lawyer is always free and does not obligate you to our firm in any way.

Should you decide that you want our firm to represent you, we never ask our clients to pay any fees or other costs that may arise while we are preparing your case for trial. We are willing to assume responsibility for any of the financial costs necessary to win your wrongful death claim in exchange for an agreed upon percentage of your final settlement.

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