San Francisco Wrongful Death Lawyers
Fighting for Families in Wrongful Death & Survival Actions Across CA
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil claims brought against individuals and / or entities alleged to have caused a person’s preventable death.
If your family is searching for ways to obtain justice and compensation after a loved one’s untimely passing, Bostwick & Peterson, LLP can help explore your options for legal action.
Why Choose Bostwick & Peterson, LLP?
- More than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements.
- Record-setting recoveries in CA, HI, OK, CO, and WA.
- Proven results in high-stakes wrongful death cases.
- Contingency fees – there is no fee unless we win.
Our San Francisco wrongful death attorneys have recovered millions for grieving families and are available to review your case during a FREE consultation.
How Does a California Wrongful Death Case Work?
California’s wrongful death laws can be found sections 377.60 through 377.62 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Per California law, surviving family members and a decedent’s estate can sue for damages when a person dies because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful acts, or when an individual or entity is strictly liable for losses.
As with other civil personal injury claims, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases must prove:
- The existence of a legal duty between the defendant and plaintiffs;
- A breach of duty (often as a result of negligence);
- Causation, which means showing that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial cause of death; and
- Damages suffered by the decedent, estate, and / or survivors.
In California, wrongful death cases technically involve two separate claims:
- A wrongful death action, which is brought by surviving family members for damages they suffered due to their loved one’s death.
- A survival action, which is brought by the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the decedent for damages they would have been entitled to had they lived (i.e. pain and suffering).
Survival actions and wrongful death actions are typically coupled together. Our attorneys can explain how these claims work and what we can do in your particular case during a consultation.
Am I Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
California allows only certain family members of a deceased person to obtain wrongful death damages. These parties include:
- Surviving spouses / partners
- Decedent’s grandchildren
- Stepchildren / other minor dependents
- Any party entitled to the estate under CA law
How Do I Know if I Have a Case?
Determining if you have a viable wrongful death case is a task best handled by an experienced attorney during a personalized case review. Wrongful death suits are fact-specific claims and there are many unique circumstances to consider when exploring your right to legal action, including the nature of the accident, the parties involved, whether potential defendants owed your loved one a duty of care, and more.
In general, you may have a wrongful death case if your family member’s death resulted from some type of wrongful or negligent act. Examples include:
- A motor vehicle accident (i.e. being struck by a drunk driver)
- A slip and fall accident or other incident involving property hazards
- Drowning accidents involving failures to supervise
- Workplace and construction accidents caused by third parties
- Medical malpractice
- Elder abuse or neglect
- Intentional homicide
Surviving relatives may also bring wrongful death claims on strict liability. In California, strict liability can apply in cases involving dog bites or animal attacks and defective products. In strict liability cases, defendants can be held liable even if they were not negligent.
Wrongful Death Compensation
Families who prevail in wrongful death cases are entitled to financial recovery of their losses, including lost financial support, lost emotional support, loss of consortium, lost value of household services, and other economic and non-economic damages.
Though non-economic damages (intangible losses such as pain and suffering, grief, and mental anguish) are substantial in wrongful death cases, California law caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving a patient death. As of January 1, 2023, this cap was increased to $500,000 from its previous $250,000 limit. It will be increased by $50,000 annually through 2033 until it reaches $1 million, after which it will be adjusted by an additional 2% annually every year. In addition, the deceased estate can now separately recover for conscious pain and suffering leading up to the death. In some special circumstances, more than one cap damage amount may be allowed.
Over $1 Billion in Compensation Recovered for Clients
At Bostwick & Peterson, our attorneys have helped families prevail in wrongful death cases involving all types of accidents and negligent acts – from medical malpractice and failures to diagnose to car accidents, truck accidents, and preventable drownings.
Examples of some of our results:
- $9.96 Million for the family of a 38-year-old man who passed away after UCSF clinic physicians failed to diagnose a cardiac condition and allowed him to fly. At the time, this was the largest medical malpractice wrongful death settlement in California history.
- $5 Million wrongful death settlement for the family of a 14-year-old girl killed at her bible camp in an ATV rollover accident. At the time, this was the largest settlement for the wrongful death of a child in California history.
- $4 Million wrongful death recovery over failure to diagnose a pending heart attack.
- $2.75 Million settlement over the wrongful death of a woman caused by a collapsing apartment staircase.
- $2.5 Million recovery over failure to diagnose fatal arrhythmia condition.
Our wrongful death attorneys serve families across San Francisco, the state of California, and other U.S. states. Contact us to discuss your case personally with a lawyer during a FREE consultation.
Invitation-only organization of the top 100 plaintiff trial lawyers in the U.S.
Former President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, limited to the top 500 trial lawyers in the U.S.
James S. Bostwick and Erik L. Peterson have been named top-rated medical malpractice attorneys in Northern California.
Invitation-only group of the nation’s top civil lawyers and judges.
James Bostwick is a nationally certified medical malpractice specialist and founding member.
Recognized since its inception in 1983 by this peer-reviewed publication, comprised of the best legal talent in the world.
Recognized for professional excellence with impressive ratings from clients and peers.
James Bostwick & Erik Peterson are listed in the Top 100 Trial Lawyers.
An exclusive group limited to less than 1% of U.S. attorneys who have won multi-million dollar results.
James Bostwick inducted into the Hall of Fame and featured among the Top 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers in America.
More than $1 billion recovered for our clients
Since January 2018, the firm has twice broken the California record for the largest medical malpractice settlement
James Bostwick was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers® in 2012
James Bostwick is a Nationally Certified Specialist by the American Board of Professional Liability
Included in the list of "Best Lawyers in America" by U.S. News - Best Lawyers® since its inception in 1983
James Bostwick received the Trial Lawyers "Presidential Award of Merit"
James Bostwick is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, limited to the nation’s top 100 plaintiff lawyers
Record-setting verdicts and settlements in five states for medical malpractice and motor vehicle accidents