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Home  »  California LawPersonal Injury   »   What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California?

What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California?

Apr 21, 2020

If you’ve found yourself looking into information around wrongful death lawsuits, chances are you’ve suffered a painful tragedy and are looking for answers. In times like these, hopefully the following straightforward information and actionable items will illuminate the way forward as you enter the next chapter.

Timeline for Wrongful Death Civil Suits in California

Wrongful death claims arise when something truly tragic has occurred. Simply put, California law recognizes wrongful death as being when a person dies due to the negligence or willful and wrongful act of another entity or individual. Although accidents are a part of life, sometimes loss of life would have been preventable with reasonable precautions or a dash of common sense foresight. And simply put, we have an obligation to one another in society to make sure that our fellow citizens don’t pay the ultimate price for someone else’s negligent, bad actions.

California law allows the surviving family or appointed representative(s) of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim, which is a civil suit where the consequences will potentially result in a financial settlement or judgement. Note that this is different from any criminal proceedings, although there is nothing to prevent both a criminal and civil case from occurring simultaneously in the same wrongful death situation.

The final piece of the puzzle revolves around the statute of limitations for wrongful death suits in California. While the law provides robust opportunity for victims’ families to seek justice for a wrongful death, the law also uses statute of limitations safeguards to avoid opportunistic and/or questionable legal action long after the death has occurred. 

In California, you have exactly two years from the date of the death in question to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations closes the door on the possibility of legal action.

Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death in California?

Understandably, the law limits who is able to collect monetary damages as a result of someone’s wrongful death. These suits are usually brought by the decedent’s spouse/domestic partner, but can also be filed by their children or parents.

If there are no eligible next of kin to bring the legal action on the deceased’s behalf, then usually a lawsuit can be filed by a family member that would otherwise be entitled to receive assets from the deceased’s estate on their behalf. This might include siblings or more distant relatives. Consulting with a wrongful death attorney in California can give you better visibility into the legitimacy of your potential claim.

Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys in Glendale, CA

Given the short statute of limitations for wrongful death in California, as well as the seriousness of the matter in terms of both the emotional and financial stakes, the attorney you choose to represent you is critical. The quality of your legal representation may mean the difference between a financial windfall that brings some measure of comfort to a grieving family, or a missed opportunity. At Dordulian Law Group, we’ve been litigating wrongful death cases for our clients successfully for years. We understand exactly how to strike the perfect balance of compassion and discretion with our clients while fiercely advocating for them and their case.

If you have a question about the viability of a potential wrongful death claim, or simply want a low-pressure, discreet legal consultation, contact Dordulian Law Group today to discuss your rights and options.

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