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Wrongful Death and California Law

Every day, people are seriously injured or even killed because of another person’s actions or negligent behavior. The victim’s family may suffer emotional pain, financial hardship, and uncertainty about the future.

If you lost a loved one due to wrongful death, you have the right to pursue justice and closure by holding those responsible for their actions.

Wrongful Death and California Law - What You Need to Know

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit in which a victim’s surviving heirs can file a claim against the person or entity whose actions caused the death of their family member. The claim is intended to determine an individual’s or entity’s fault by presenting evidence of their negligence, recklessness, or willful and wanton behavior.

Under California law, the following relatives may take legal action on behalf of their deceased loved one: children, grandchildren, other children who were dependent on the victim for at least 50% of their financial support, and surviving spouses or domestic partners.

Standing Up After the Loss of a Loved One

One of our California clients recently lost his wife due to the actions of her healthcare team. “My wife was a very active young lady. She had a female problem that, from what I understand, many women do. It was supposed to be a routine operation – out in a day and a half. She decided that she would have the issue taken care of, but the operation didn’t result in that.”

During the operation, our client’s wife suffered a perforated small and large intestine. She spent almost a month in the ICU and never came out. She died following the operation. “There’s no reason that should have happened. My wife didn’t deserve this. I wanted to stand up for her at whatever cost it was. Win or lose. I was not going to just not do anything.”

Contact Our California Wrongful Death Attorneys

After losing his wife, he reached out to California wrongful death attorneyJim Bostwick about his wrongful death case. “I felt comfortable with him because he was reading me pretty well. He saw my energy and that I was going to fight. I think he harnessed it.” The client said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but attorney Bostwick put him at ease. “He walked me through [the case], and my pressure level was reduced. They made me feel good about what happens in a lawyer’s office. You know, a lot of people are probably scared of that because when you start messing with a law, it’s a whole different ball game.”

Jim Bostwick took the client’s case to court and prevailed.

In a wrongful death case, you cannot undo injuries or bring back loved ones, but you can hold the parties financially responsible. You can help prevent tragedies from happening to other families. “The most important thing of this, is this man [Mr. Bostwick] helped me release the tension of being alone and to be able to survive.”

Damages in a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful death claims in California can include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to quantifiable financial costs that victims and their loved ones have incurred because of the injury or death. This can include hospital bills, medication, loss of employment or wages, lost financial support, and therapy.

Non-economic damages involve placing a value on the loss of the comfort and protection of the victim: lost emotional support, loss of consortium, lost value of household services. These damages can also include pain and suffering, grief, and mental anguish.

California does place limits on what may be allowed as compensation in wrongful death cases, specifically, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving a patient death. In 2023, California increased those damages caps from $250,000 to $500,000 in medical malpractice wrongful death cases. The new bill also allows victims of medical malpractice to potentially stack damages involving multiple entities and providers. Eventually, the damages cap will be raised to $1 million over the next ten years.

Contact Bostwick & Peterson

If your loved one has been killed due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person or entity, Bostwick & Peterson can help you and your family find closure and support. Our team of wrongful death attorneys can evaluate your unique situation, conduct independent investigations, and build a strong case on your behalf.

Bostwick & Peterson is an award-winning firm that has recovered more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements. Our team of San Francisco-based attorneys have made record-setting recoveries for our clients in California, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Washington.

Contact our office for a free evaluation of your case. Call us at (888) 831-8448 or use our online contact form.