CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

North Highlands Wrongful Death Lawyer


The sudden and completely unexpected loss of a loved one, whether a spouse, child, sibling, or parent, is one of the worst tragedies that can strike a family. The pain can often be so great as to affect someone for the rest of their life. The pain of loss is made that much worse when the death was caused by either the wrongdoing or negligence of another person or corporation.

Understanding Wrongful Death Under California Law

California defines wrongful death as a death resulting from another person or entity's wrongful act or neglect. Wrongful death can take many forms and can either result from some intentional or reckless act, or it could simply be an accident like an automobile collision. The wrongful death statute is codified in California Civil Code § 377.60.

Pursuing Justice Through a Wrongful Death Claim

If you lost a loved one in a preventable accident, you might be able to pursue justice and accountability through a North Highlands wrongful death lawsuit. This is a civil claim that allows a family member or close relative of the deceased to seek financial compensation for their loss in court. This special type of lawsuit can be brought by either the deceased person’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or surviving children. If the decedent had no spouse or children, the lawsuit could be brought by the decedent's heirs or the decedent’s parents if the decedent was a child.

Given the broad definition of wrongful death, there are many types of wrongful death claims. In general, any type of neglect or wrongful act that causes death could potentially become a wrongful death. However, some types of claims arise more commonly than others. For example, California leads the nation in auto accidents, with over 3,000 people dying annually in traffic collisions. Some of the most frequent types of wrongful death lawsuits involve:

If they result in the death of a loved one, any of these types of incidents could serve as the basis for a wrongful death claim under California law.

The Wrongful Death Process

wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit. Unlike a criminal case brought by the state government against a wrongdoer, a civil lawsuit is brought by a plaintiff. In California's wrongful death cases, the lawsuit is brought by a close family member of the decedent (i.e., the person who passed away).

In general, the lawsuit must be filed by California’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations bars any lawsuit not commenced within the required time period. For wrongful death lawsuits, the statutory time period runs for two years from the date of the death. Note also that in wrongful death lawsuits brought against the government (such as in the case of a city bus crash), the governmental entity being sued must be notified of the injury claim within six months of the incident.

Once the lawsuit is filed, it can either settle out of court or go to trial in front of a jury or a judge. Often, at least one insurance company will be involved in the lawsuit. For example, in the case of an auto accident, the offending driver is likely covered by auto insurance, in which case, the wrongful death lawsuit will be primarily be fought against the insurer.

Wrongful death claims are designed to help compensate the grieving family for its losses. While we know that no amount of money can ever replace your lost loved one, legal compensation can help you recover funeral costs, medical bills, lost income and support, and loss of companionship. These damages are designed to reduce a family’s financial hardship after a sudden death.

The video below explains a wrongful death claim and the types of damages that can be claimed.

Seek Legal Representation to Protect Your Rights

Wrongful death lawsuits tend to be extremely complicated legal proceedings with multiple moving parts, filing deadlines, and so forth. Hiring an experienced North Highlands wrongful death lawyer to represent your interests in court is strongly recommended. You should focus on spending time with your family and picking up the pieces of your life. We'll handle the complicated legal work, and we're happy to do it. We've been representing people in personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1982. Contact our law office to schedule a no-cost, confidential case review.

Wrongful Death Lawyers in North Highlands

It’s never easy to lose someone you care about. If your loved one was taken as a result of another party’s negligence, we could help. Please call our experienced North Highlands wrongful death lawyers for compassionate, free and friendly advice. We can be reached at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 and online via my website:

We have worked to serve the North Highlands and Sacramento community since 1982, helping people injured in accidents and their families recover.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

Learn more about us. See our past verdicts and settlements and client reviews on AvvoYelp, Google.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 6.10.21]

:sid rey [cs 921] 

Client Reviews
"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
"Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime." Jeremy M.
"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
"Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury." David M.