Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Are you mourning the loss of a beloved family member? Your opportunity to seek financial compensation may expire if your claim isn’t filed within California’s wrongful death statute of limitations. An experienced Pasadena wrongful death lawyer from the Law Offices of Pius Joseph can explain the timeframe to file a claim and take the burden off your shoulders.

A wrongful death claim can provide compensation and closure to family members who lose a loved one due to another party’s carelessness in California. But state law places a time limit on how long surviving relatives have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Missing the deadline could mean losing your right to the money you deserve forever, so getting started as soon as possible is crucial.

Our law firm can guide your family through the process of demanding justice and compensation for your loved one’s death. We’ll listen to your story and identify your family’s needs and goals. Then we’ll develop a tailored legal strategy to pursue maximum compensation for you. While money is no replacement for the person you lost, it can hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions and restore financial stability as you move forward.

The Law Offices of Pius Joseph will provide the compassionate and experienced legal services you need. Call or contact us today to speak with a California wrongful death lawyer.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in California?

In California, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years from the date of your family member’s death. The trial court can dismiss the suit as untimely if filed after the wrongful death statute of limitations expires. If that happens, your family loses the right to recover compensation from those at fault for your loved one’s death.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death?

Certain exceptions to the standard statute of limitations on wrongful death claims can shorten or extend how long you have to file a lawsuit. That’s why you should talk to a wrongful death attorney about the details of your case right away.

For example, you only have six months to file a claim against a government entity or agency for a loved one’s passing. This type of wrongful death claim could stem from:

  • Deaths from accidents on government property
  • Accidents caused by government-owned vehicles
  • Medical malpractice in public hospitals
  • Death caused by government employees acting in the course and scope of their job duties

The government entity or agency has 45 days to accept or deny a claim. You or a loved one must file within six months of the denial or the expiration of the 45-day review period.

In other cases, the statute of limitations is extended, or “tolled.” For instance, a minor child has two years from their 18th birthday to file a wrongful death claim for a parent’s passing rather than two years from the date of death.

The Discovery Rule

Another common reason for tolling the wrongful death statute of limitations in California is the discovery rule. According to the discovery rule, the clock does not begin ticking on the date of death. Instead, the statute of limitations starts when the cause of the individual’s death is discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence and investigation.

For wrongful death claims, the discovery rule can mean that the statute of limitations does not begin until:

  • A decedent’s family discovers or learns of their loved one’s death.
  • They find out someone else caused the death.
  • The family learns the identity of the responsible party.

statue of limitations for wrongful death

Medical Malpractice Claims

Wrongful death claims arising from medical malpractice are subject to a different statute of limitations in California. Typically, you or a family member must file a wrongful death claim involving medical malpractice within:

  • One year from the date that a family discovered (or should have reasonably discovered) facts showing that their family member’s death was caused by medical negligence
  • Three years from the date of a family member’s death from medical malpractice

Because the statute of limitations differs depending on the facts of the case, it’s wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of your case.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

Not every relative can pursue wrongful death compensation in California. The state’s wrongful death law limits beneficiaries to:

  • Surviving spouses or domestic partners
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Other minor children who received at least 50 percent of financial support from the deceased (e.g., stepchildren)

Anyone else who may be entitled to property under California laws on intestate succession

If you are unsure whether you are an eligible beneficiary, a wrongful death lawyer can help determine how California wrongful death laws apply to your case.

Types of Wrongful Death Compensation

A wrongful death claim can allow eligible family members to recover compensation for losses incurred from a loved one’s death, such as:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of the deceased’s income
  • Loss of benefits family members would have received from the decedent
  • Loss of a loved one’s companionship and care
  • Loss of consortium or intimacy
  • Loss of guidance

California has no cap on damages in wrongful death cases except for medical malpractice claims. In those cases, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.

Get Help from Our Pasadena Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

Healing after a loved one’s passing takes time. While there’s no time limit on grief, California’s deadline to file a wrongful death claim must be met. Let the Law Offices of Pius Joseph hold the at-fault party accountable for their wrongdoing and pursue the results you deserve. We can file your claim and negotiate on your behalf with as few disruptions to your life as possible.

Call or contact the Law Offices of Pius Joseph today to speak to a dedicated California wrongful death lawyer.