Los Angeles Wrongful Death Claims

Michael Ehline Lobbying the Department of Transportation

Michael Ehline – Foreground – US Supreme Court – Back Ground

There is nothing worse than losing a loved one for a family. Especially when the family member died because of another party’s actions. Whether it is an individual, company, manufacturer, medical professional, organization, or government entity’s negligence.

The family often has a difficult time understanding negligent actions. The kind that causes an individual’s death. It’s an unfair and senseless death that could have otherwise not happened.

Losing a family member causes grief, but it can also mean financial stress. When the person is the main earner in the family their loss means a loss of income. Income that provides for the family. Therefore, the surviving family members may struggle to pay bills and provide other items.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Can Also Be From A Suicide.

Sometimes a person will commit suicide because a negligent party drove the decedent to take their own life. Some people refuse to choose survival over suicide. Sometimes the wrongdoer could have emotionally harmed them. Sometimes a hospital will let a suicidal person leave the treatment center before they are ready. This could form the basis of a medical malpractice claim.

  • Example of a Suicide Wrongful Death Includes the Allegations Against Actor Jim Carrey 

On Monday, Burton, who met and married White in 2013 while working as a camera operator, filed a complaint against Carrey in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that the Hollywood actor provided White with the pills she used to commit suicide last September.

In that case, the lawyer for the survivors also alleges that the decedent was given herpes by Carrey, which also spurred on the death.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Almost every state allows wrongful death lawsuits filed by the heirs of the victim. The heirs together against the liable party or negligent party file the lawsuit responsible for the actions causing death. So the wrongful death suit or personal injury case is filed in civil court. California including Los Angeles wrongful death is statute CCP Section 377.60.

Wrongful death law becomes complex.  And it should not be undertaken without an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Furthermore, the claim is a civil court matter. So it remains separate from any criminal charges. When convicted of a crime for the victim’s negligent death, a civil suit is still possible.

Video With Examples of More Wrongful Death Scenarios

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

California’s wrongful death statute CCP Section 377.60 explains who can file a lawsuit.

  • The victim’s spouse.
  • Dependent children.
  • Domestic partner also the de facto partner.
  • Domestic partner’s children.
  • Dependent stepchildren.
  • Surviving parents, siblings of the deceased and their children. There are special rules for these family members to file a claim.
  • Grandparents of the victim. Special rules apply for grandparents to file a claim.
  • Any person who depended on the decedent for support.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

In Los Angeles, a wrongful death is a fatal because of negligent actions by another person or entity. A requirement the negligence proved beyond doubt. The claim has a time limit to file.

This is two years after the death in most cases. The exceptions for this time limit is if the death happened due to negligence by a state or government agency. The process of this wrongful death claim is a six-month time limit to file. Medical malpractice claims have a one-year time limit.

In Los Angeles and other areas of Southern California one joint wrongful death claim is allowed by family members. And it will become lodged against the defendant(s).

This means the family must file a joint claim rather than each person filing their own. This is referred to as the One Action Rule. Because this is a joint claim, anyone allowed to seek compensation must be named in this lawsuit or they will not have a valid claim.

Common Causes of Los Angeles Wrongful Death.

The leading cause of death in Los Angeles is traffic crashes like in most large cities. The other common negligent deaths include slip and fall accidents. Many are workplace fatalities, medical negligence, and medical malpractice claims.

In Southern California, there have been defective product deaths. In the state the largest cause of negligent death is traffic accidents.

These happen for a variety of reasons including:

  • distracted driving.
  • dangerous or reckless driving.
  • speeding.
  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • More rare causes include vehicle defects, defective designs, and poor road conditions.

Crash Data.

The data for L.A. by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that fatal crashes happen at intersections and low speed. These are higher than the national average. But in the city 36 percent of crashes happen at intersections. And the national average is 22 percent. Also, the city has a higher number of deaths at night. Last, the national average is lower than the L.A. nighttime fatalities.

New Legislation.

After a 2014 death of a lawyer in a fatal crash while riding a bicycle, the governor rejected legislation for bike riders. First of all, the proposed legislation 18 months later would provide three feet of room for bike riders from passing motor vehicles. The other part of the legislation the vehicle required to slow when passing bicyclists.

NHTSA data shows collisions resulting in serious injury and fatality between pedestrians and bike riders to be high in Los Angeles. The L.A. statistics are triple in number at 33 percent. Nationwide the average is 11.4 percent.

The lawyer Milton Olin, died after a collision on his bicycle with a police vehicle on Mulholland Drive. The crash happened in the bicycle lane. Olin died at the scene from multiple head injuries.

The officer was Deputy Andrew Wood Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Both the police car and bike were going in the same direction.

Woods got injured in the collision.  But he returned to full duty. He then transferred to another unit.

The investigation is then given to the district attorney’s office to decide if the officer would be prosecuted. If Governor Jerry Brown agreed with the legislation and became law it could change if Deputy Wood was at-fault in the bike riders death. Whether the deputy caused the crash the family can file a wrongful death claim in civil court.

Successful Wrongful Death Cases

If the lawsuit is successful, the careless party is held liable. The amount of money awarded for the claim is divided. It gets split between the family members or claimants in the suit. Also, this division is agreed upon by the family members. Furthermore, if family members are unable to divide the money, the court can help.

Grief Counseling

Winning a death claim can bring some closure, but often less than enough. However, after the loss of a loved one counseling is often needed to help with the grief process. In Los Angeles, there are several organizations helping bereaved individuals and families. Some work in children’s counseling with others for all ages. Grief counselors, grief psychologists, and grief psychotherapists can help.

Los Angeles and Southern California Wrongful Death Lawyers.

If you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligent actions we can help you through the legal process. We understand how emotionally draining a wrongful death lawsuit is. And we know the effect the death has on a family.

Our lawyers can help you and your family find the right place for grief counseling if you need help locating one.

We offer a free consultation to evaluate your case and determine the best course of action. Contact our caring and experienced wrongful death lawyers toll-free at (888) 400-9721.


Allen, Samantha. “Jim Carrey Wrongful Death Lawsuit Just Got Uglier” – The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.


About Author


Ehline Michael
Michael Ehline is a prolific blogger on California and international tort law. He has been a guest on CNN, discussed in major news publications like Forbes, Circle of Legal Trust, Personal Injury Warriors, and International Cruise Victims. He has lobbied congress on behalf of injured consumers, served as a United States Marine, and won millions of dollars for his clients. This blog discusses Ehline's insights and musings on all aspects of negligence law as it relates to all things "accidents." Ehline can be reached at (213) 596-9642.