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California Wrongful Death Lawyer

California wrongful death lawyer

The experienced California Wrongful Death Lawyers of Bisnar Chase have represented and won cases for over 45 years. Having won over $800 million for our clients, we’ve established a 99% success rate and an authoritative and impressive reputation in the courtroom and in the real world. 

An attorney for wrongful death cases is a specialized practice requiring vast knowledge of tort and negligence laws. We represent the surviving family members in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego, with meeting locations in San Francisco. 

How Do I Prove a Wrongful Death in California?

In California, a death resulting from negligence must demonstrate four key elements: negligence, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care, that duty was breached, and that this breach resulted in death and damages.

The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to provide substantial evidence supporting a California death case. Working with a Southern California wrongful death attorney familiar with the case’s legal requirements is crucial.

Dedicated to Victims of a Wrongful Death

Our personal injury lawyers is passionate and dedicated to bringing the victims of wrongful deaths to justice and helping rebuild the lives that were shattered in many different types of cases, but more specifically, wrongful deaths. When you are a client of Bisnar Chase, you are a part of the family. Your questions will always be answered, and you will feel at home with us.

The paralegals, negotiators, mediators, and other legal staff are known for their friendly and charismatic personalities, professional and efficient work ethics, and ability to take each step while holding your hand through this challenging experience. We are here to help and will take every step to ensure you are comfortable and know what’s happening at all times.

Get your free consultation and case evaluation today. For immediate help or answers about a wrongful death lawsuit claim, contact an experienced and trusted California wrongful death lawyer at 800-561-4887.

We will discuss your options with you, and if we can help you, we’ll provide a no-fee guarantee that if we don’t win your wrongful death case, you won’t pay.

In addition, we shield you from financial liability throughout your personal injury lawsuit by advancing all costs until your case settles. We have experienced wrongful death trial attorneys and litigation staff. This is important because not all wrongful death attorneys go to trial. We do. We are familiar with all California courts and have represented our clients in front of jury trials for decades for these types of tragedies.

California Wrongful Death Lawyer

Award-Winning California Wrongful Death Law Firm

Recovering from the loss of a family member is one of life’s most difficult challenges. Following your loss, the weight of the new responsibilities that rest on your shoulders may seem too difficult to bear.

Our California wrongful death attorneys have assisted more than 14,000 clients since 1978 and have developed a 99% success rate while recovering hundreds of millions of dollars for those they represent.

We understand how to treat clients recovering from debilitating grief and will give you straightforward answers to help put your life back on track. Whether you have a wrongful death damage case or not, you can count on Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys to give you straightforward answers and advice to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

  • 2024 Litigator of the Year
  • 2024 Top Lawyer
  • 2024 Super Lawyers
  • Best of the Best Top 10 Personal Injury Law Firms
  • Top 100 Trial Attorneys
  • 2024 Law Firm of the Year
  • 2024 Top 1% Accident Lawyers

If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, contact us today for assistance and to take advantage of our free consultation. Brian Chase, the senior partner and seasoned trial lawyer, has achieved unrivaled court success in the last year alone; he has recovered millions of dollars for his clients.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?

Who can sue for a wrongful death claim in California?

A California wrongful death claim can be complicated, so having an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side is essential.

As the survivor of a loved one, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the recovery of the following damages:

  1. The loss of the love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace, moral support, and (if a spouse is a claimant) consortium of the decedent
  2. The value of the decedent’s household services would have been provided in the future, if any.
  3. The monetary value of the financial support that the claimant would have received from the decedent but for the death.

After a loved one has passed away, there are only certain people who may file a wrongful death claim. First in line are the surviving spouse, children, and surviving issue of the decedent’s children. These survivors can file separately or jointly. If these types of claimants do not exist, next in line is the person’s:

  • Parents of the deceased person
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Siblings or step-siblings
  • Children of the deceased person
  • Grandparents of the deceased person
  • Lineal descendants of the deceased

A second group of claimants that are not covered in the first group are:

  • Putative spouse (a person who can prove that he or she had good faith belief that they were married to the decedent but were not married by law)
  • Children of the putative spouse
  • Stepchildren

The only way that those qualified under the second group can file a death resulting from negligence claim is if they can prove that they were dependent upon the decedent at the time of death. The final class of claimant is any minor who can prove that they were a resident of the decedent’s household for 180 days before the death and that they were dependent upon the decedent for at least 50% of their support at the time of death.

If you are unsure if you qualify to file a fatal accident and injury lawsuit, contact a Southern California wrongful death lawyer at Bisnar Chase today for a free wrongful death case evaluation. We can determine if you meet the requirements to file a wrongful death claim for your losses. Surviving family members may be entitled to financial compensation.

How Much Can You Sue for a California Wrongful Death?

The defendant’s assets or liability insurance coverage may sometimes determine the value of a wrongful death claim. However, an experienced California wrongful death attorney can help victims’ families obtain maximum compensation by carefully examining the specific aspects of the case at hand.

First, it may have to be determined if an estate should be created. When several individuals claim compensation, a probate estate may be created. The death resulting from negligence claim will be brought in the name of the estate rather than the individual claimants.

Another critical step in an unwarranted wrongful death case is to establish the life expectancy of the decedent. Some factors that may be considered include the victim’s age, lifestyle, medical history, and occupation.

It can also be a challenge to determine how much financial support survivors lost as a result of their loved one’s death. This would require an assessment of the decedent’s employment and salary history and anticipated future wages and lost wages, including promotions, raises, etc.

Common damages include:

  • Lost potential earning capacity of the deceased
  • Income at the time of death
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral home expenses and burial costs
  • Loss of benefits
  • The value of household services the deceased could have provided during his or her lifetime

Speak with local legal counsel or an accident lawyer to determine if you have a wrongful death legal action you can pursue. California’s legal tort laws protect the loved ones of a person who died from negligence.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

California’s general two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is broken down into several exceptions. For instance, if medical malpractice caused the victim’s death, the statute of limitations is one year from the date the negligence was discovered or three years from the date of death, whichever comes first.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Case Take in California?

The time your personal injury claim will take to settle depends on how straightforward or complex your case is. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to resolve a wrongful death claim, and it requires a lot of attention to detail, uncovering evidence to support your claim, and dealing with the insurance companies.

It’s imperative to have an injury law office that gets results. Many plaintiffs complain that their wrongful death cases are left unattended, often passing important deadlines and jeopardizing their financial compensation. Work with a team with a winning record, like the California wrongful death lawyers at Bisnar Chase.

What Are the Damages in a California Wrongful Death Suit?

Non-Economic Damages: These include the loss of the deceased’s love, protection, companionship, affection, support, emotional distress, and guidance.

Economic Damages: The deceased person’s medical expenses, funeral costs, and burial expenses; the value of household contributions and income the dead could have provided; and the loss of any benefits and gifts the relatives could have expected to receive from the deceased.

Punitive Damages: In California, punitive damage in a wrongful death claim are generally limited. If the decedent suffered an economic loss before passing away, the decedent’s estate may seek punitive damages in a survivor action rather than a wrongful death claim.

Contact our top-rated accident attorneys in California to see if you qualify for a wrongful death suit. Call 800-561-4887. Our legal advocates can evaluate your claim to determine eligibility and representation.

What Factors Are Used to Calculate a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Several factors are typically considered to calculate lost future earnings, including:

  • Physical or Mental Impairments can interfere with job duties and affect future earning capacity.
  • Age, Education, Experience, and Skills: These factors determine the ability to seek employment elsewhere if necessary.
  • Medical Evaluation: A doctor’s evaluation of the medical condition and the likelihood of recovery or suffering permanent damage is considered
  • Profession & Career: This includes current wages, market value, historical career performance, and skills.
  • Severity of the Injury: The impact of the injury on the ability to work and earn an income is a crucial factor.
  • Earnings History and Income Since the Injury: Past earnings, current income, and bonuses earned in the past are considered.
  • Plaintiff’s Ability to Compete in the Labor Market: This assesses the potential to secure employment despite the injury had the plaintiff survived.

Determining the cause of death is crucial to proving your California wrongful death suit. Experts, medical professionals, and your attorney will review the data to determine liability.

How Much do Wrongful Death Lawyers Charge?

A wrongful death lawyer in California is allowed to charge up to 42% of what they collect. Our law group charges approximately 33 1/3% of what we collect unless it involves more extensive work; then, the rate can be slightly higher.

We offer a contingency fee basis, which means if we don’t win your wrongful death case, you don’t pay. This protects you from upfront fees and any money out of your pocket. You’ll never pay us directly, as we collect the fees from the lawsuit proceeds.  

We also work to reduce your hospital and medical bills, putting more of the settlement or verdict in your hands. We request that we receive medical liens as well to keep you from paying your medical care costs until the case is over.

New Laws in California Impacting Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The new law in California regarding wrongful death claims is Senate Bill (SB) 447, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 1, 2021, and became effective on January 1, 2022.

California’s Wrongful Death Law

This law has significantly changed the landscape of untimely death and survival actions in the state. Before the enactment of SB 447, California law did not allow for the recovery of damages for a decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement in survival actions, which are typically a component of a concurrent wrongful death lawsuit.

However, SB 447 has revised §377.34 of the California Code of Civil Procedure to allow the recovery of such non-economic damages in survival actions, which means that the damages recoverable in a survival action now include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement that the decedent may have experienced before death.

SB 447 also makes it possible for the heirs of a victim to file a survival action claim for general damages (pain and suffering). This is a departure from the previous law, which did not allow general damages to be recovered through a survival action claim. 

However, it’s important to note that SB 447 has a sunset provision, meaning it will automatically expire after four years, on January 1, 2026, unless the legislature chooses to extend the sunset date or make the changes permanent.

The increase in the damages cap for wrongful death due to medical malpractice is another significant change in California’s wrongful death laws, in addition to SB 447. Effective January 1, 2023, this cap has been increased from $250,000 to $500,000. Each January 1st thereafter, this cap will increase by $50,000 until it reaches $1 million.

AB 35, a piece of legislation that Governor Newsom signed to modernize the California system for determining damages in medical malpractice cases, was responsible for this change.

The death grievance policy in California has also been updated. Assembly Bill (AB) 1949, which went into effect on January 1, 2023, governs the death grievance policy, also known as bereavement leave, in California. You can see more details about paid leave after a death here.

If you are unsure if your death case qualifies, talk with a California wrongful death lawyer at Bisnar Chase by calling 800-561-4887 for a confidential, free consultation.  We can determine if there was abuse or neglect involved, as well as other mitigating circumstances leading to the death, and protect your survival rights.

What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death and a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The primary distinction between a wrongful death claim and a personal injury claim in California is the type of damages sought and who brings the claim. A personal injury claim is made when another person or entity’s carelessness or intentional actions harm someone. 

The injured party also called the plaintiff and filed a lawsuit to recover damages for their injuries, medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.

A death claim is made when someone dies as a result of the carelessness or wrongful actions of another person or entity. The deceased person’s surviving family members, such as their spouse, children, or parents, file the lawsuit to seek compensation for their suffering on a material and emotional level.

What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action California?

When someone dies in California as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of others, two different types of lawsuits can be filed: untimely death actions and survival actions.

The bereaved or personal representative of the decedent’s estate or the survivor of the deceased person’s surviving spouse, child, or other dependent family members may file a wrongful death action.

A survival action is a lawsuit the decedent would have been entitled to file had they survived the injuries. The decedent’s successor-in-interest or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file this action.

Contact an injury law attorney at Bisnar Chase for a free consultation to find out if you have a death claim. If we take your case and don’t win, you don’t pay. Call 800-561-4887.

Intentional vs. Negligence

In death cases, the difference between intentional torts and negligence lies in the actor’s state of mind and the intent behind their actions.

  • Negligence: Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise reasonable care, leading to harm or injury to another person. The individual did not intend to cause harm, but their careless actions resulted in injury or death.
  • Intentional Torts: Intentional torts, on the other hand, occur when a person intentionally acts in a way that leads to another person’s injury or death. In these cases, the wrongdoer must have intended the action that harmed the victim. 

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Lawyers specializing in death suits work with insurance companies to represent the interests of the deceased’s family in pursuit of compensation for their losses.  Our injury attorneys advise clients to avoid direct communication with adjusters and to avoid making recorded statements.

Our trial attorneys are knowledgeable about the strategies employed by insurance companies to reduce money paid on claims and can work to counter these tactics. Our wrongful death attorneys also negotiate with insurance companies to pursue the maximum compensation for the family of their loved one.

Make sure to let the law office speak on your behalf to all insurance adjusters to protect the integrity of your case. We also advise against posting personal information on social media sites because the insurance company will use that information against you.

Award-Winning Trial Lawyers

trial attorneys

When looking for a wrongful death lawyer in California, it’s essential to consider factors such as the firm’s experience, track record, and the specific expertise of the attorneys in handling death cases. Additionally, it’s advisable to schedule consultations with trial lawyers to discuss the case details and the approach they would take to represent the client’s interests in and out of the courtroom.

The trial lawyers at Bisnar Chase have decades of experience trying complex cases before a jury. We have a 99% success rate in winning the cases we take and the resources to hire the best experts and investigators to defend your position that a untimely death from negligence occurred.

Decades of verdicts and settlements in the hundreds of millions are why Bisnar Chase is rated in the top 1% in the country for successful trial attorneys.

Can an Accidental Death be considered a Wrongful Death?

Yes, a fatal accidental death can be considered a wrongful death if it occurs due to the negligence, misconduct, or wrongful act of another person, business, or entity.

In a death case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence or intentional wrongful act directly caused the catastrophic injury and death and that there are measurable damages resulting from the death.

For example, if a person runs a red light and accidentally hits and kills a pedestrian, this could be considered a untimely death because the driver’s negligence caused the accident. In such cases, the surviving family members or a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a death claim.

Wrongful Death Versus Murder

What is the difference between wrongful death and murder? Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions. These lawsuits are ones that the victim’s estate or family members—typically immediate family members—have filed.

The claimants attempt to prove that the defendant was the person responsible or civilly liable for the deceased person’s death as the result of a careless, deliberate, or negligent act. The burden of proof is also different and lesser in civil lawsuits.

Murder or homicide cases, on the other hand, are criminal cases. The burden of proof in a criminal case is on the prosecution. The prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person committed the murder.

It is important to remember that the wrongdoer will be punished and ordered to pay restitution in a murder case. But only a civil death claim can help compensate wrongful death victims’ families monetarily for the losses sustained.

Types of Injuries Leading to a Wrongful Death

A wrongful death can occur due to many different circumstances, often resulting from the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity.

  • Car accidents: Traffic accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death. Factors contributing to fatal car accidents can include aggressive driving, driving under adverse conditions, mechanical defects, driving while intoxicated, speeding, tailgating, and running traffic lights or stop signs. Commercial truck accidents can also lead to death involving equipment failure.
  • Medical Malpractice: Medical negligence can include a range of errors, such as misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, improper treatment, and pharmaceutical errors.
  • Workplace Accidents: Employers are the responsible party for ensuring their employees’ safety. Accidents can occur in any industry, but common examples include repetitive motion and strain injuries, manufacturing accidents, transportation industry accidents, construction accidents, and exposure to hazardous substances like asbestos.
  • Motorcycle Accidents: These often occur when drivers fail to notice motorcyclists, leading to severe injuries such as brain injuries, back and neck injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
  • Defective Products (Product Liability): This can include defective medications, food, toys, and other products that can lead to injury or death.
  • Criminal Behavior: Death can also result from criminal activities, such as assault or other violent crime.
  • Drownings: Facilities that provide aquatic recreation can lead to drowning deaths due to a lack of supervision. This is a form of premises liability.
  • Death on a Property: Unsafe properties such as hotels, bars, restaurants, amusement parks, stadiums, and other public spaces leading to death.
  • Catastrophic Dog Attack: Serious and catastrophic injuries leading to death often occur in a vicious dog attack, and the owner of the dog is responsible.

Finding Emotional Support For Loved Ones

Besides handling the legal aspects of your case, our staff is trained to be supportive and sensitive to family members reeling from the sudden, unintended death of a loved one. We know every moment is a moment of recovery, and the stress is unimaginable.

We will work to find you emotional support experts at your request whenever we can. We have built hundreds of relationships over the years with medical professionals, including trauma therapists, counselors, and psychologists. We check in on you every few weeks throughout your case to make sure you are doing okay.

Contacting an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in California

We understand what families are going through after a loved one’s death. We understand that no amount of money can bring back a beloved family member. But we are here to help you through this difficult time and do everything in our power to help you get justice and fair compensation for your losses.

To determine if you are eligible in any category to file a California wrongful death claim and to have evidence reviewed, it is essential to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. By retaining a California wrongful death attorney from Bisnar Chase, you can be assured that we will take care of all the paperwork, do research, and answer all of your questions.

Call us at 949-203-3814 for a free, no-hassle, confidential, no-obligation consultation. You may be entitled to take legal action for your harm and should not carry the financial burden of another’s actions leading to a tragic death. If we take your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation into the untimely death, seek compensation, including burial costs and lost wages and income, and seek the best settlement offer for you.

Best Law Firms in America 2024 - Bisnar Chase

Wrongful Death Lawyer California

If your loved one has passed as a result of someone else’s negligence, know your rights and contact an attorney today. Our California wrongful death lawyers have decades of experience handling complex cases. We’ve recovered $800 million and have a no-win, no-fee guarantee.

The most common wrongful death cases we handle are:

  • Dog Attack Death
  • Auto-Defect Death
  • Workplace Death
  • Dangerous Product Death
  • Negligent Premises Death

Related Wrongful Death Articles

Case Results

  • 1

    $117,500,000

    Consumer Class Action

  • 2

    $38,650,000

    Motor Vehicle Accident

  • 3

    $32,698,073

    Auto Defect – Seat Manufacturers, Johnson Controls

  • 4

    $30,000,000

    Motorcycle Accident

  • 5

    $24,744,764

    Defective Seatback

  • 6

    $16,444,904

    Bicycle Accident

Client Reviews

Bisnar Chase Google Review

Bisnar Chase is a model #veteranowned business that is purpose-driven — showing the power of patriotism in action! Because of Bisnar Chase, low-income veterans will be able to forge new futures at home through pro bono legal care. Team Veterans Legal Institute is grateful to have Bisnar Chase as a sponsor for Lawyers for Warriors — supporting the promise to be there for our veterans when they need it most.

KellyAnn Romanych
Bisnar Chase Review - Natalie

I’m so impressed with this law firm. I lost my mother because of a seat defect when she was rear-ended in an auto accident and Bisnar Chase stepped up and took our case. The staff is wonderful and Brian Chase took his time explaining everything via phone with me. I’m honored to have the best of the best working on our family’s behalf, trying to get justice for my Mom, because of a negligent car company still manufacturing faulty seats. I look forward to working with this firm and am hopeful for a positive outcome. Thank you so much, Brian Chase. I know you will work your hardest on this case. God Bless you.

Natalie C.
Bisnar Chase Google Review

I had an attorney for my truck accident who wanted almost 60% of what my case was worth. Worse than that, he was willing to settle for $5,000.00 with the insurance company even though I was still treating for whiplash and back pain. I contacted Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys because a friend recommended them. My case was handled exceptionally well! I was being kept notified throughout the whole process and only when I was comfortable with the settlement figure, did my attorney Gavin Long, accept it. I felt like we were working together and I felt listened to. I would refer Bisnar Chase to anyone who wants quality over quantity!

Lauren B
Bisnar Chase Google Review

Great people in this office, everyone was really helpful explaining everything. I was referred by my aunt for my car accident in October and the case went pretty fast. No problems and very professional. I was kept in the loop thru the whole process and was able to get a better settlement than my insurance company said I would. I can’t really compare them to other law firms because it was the first time I had to use an attorney, but my bad experience with the car accident was handled as well as I could have hoped.

P. Montgomery

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, LLP

1301 Dove St. STE 120, Newport Beach, CA 92660

800-561-4887

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