Standing at the graveside of a loved one, particularly when the life was lost unexpectedly, is a devastating event. When the death was needless or a result of someone else’s careless action or inaction, it feels even worse.

Not only that, but you may be facing a mountain of medical bills or funeral expenses, as well, and wondering how you’re going to make ends meet. If your loved one wasn’t at fault for the accident that took their life, you may be owed compensation from the responsible party.

The Fontana personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw have been helping the families of accident victims pursue compensation for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones since 2002. Our lawyers are compassionate, empathetic, and dedicated to getting justice for the families of the victims of wrongful death. To see how we can help you obtain the compensation you need to get on with your life, call today. We’ll answer your questions and advise you about all your legal options.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death occurs when someone is killed through no fault of their own in an accident or because of a malicious act. To bring a wrongful death lawsuit against someone is to seek compensation, or damages, for the losses arising from the death of a loved one. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions, as opposed to criminal actions. The difference between the criminal charge of murder and the civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death is that a guilty verdict in a criminal hearing results in incarceration. The determination of guilt in a wrongful death suit means that the at-fault person is then required to pay compensation.

Who Could Be Held Responsible/ Who Is Eligible to Bring a Claim?

California law is very clear as to who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The person/people who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit are the survivors affected by the death. California limits the people who can sue to the following:

  • The estate of the deceased. While the dead person may not be able to bring a lawsuit, a person who represents the interests of the estate can file suit. For instance, an executor named in the will can file suit on behalf of the deceased.
  • Those who are dependent upon the deceased for financial support. Generally, this is a person outside the immediate family that has had regular monetary assistance from the deceased.
  • Parents. The loss of a child is something that no parent should have to suffer. The anguish of losing a child—even an adult child—through the actions of another person can create hardships and anguish.
  • Children or grandchildren. Like those who were dependent upon the deceased for financial support, the children of the deceased are no longer able to enjoy their financial support, nor are they able to enjoy the emotional and familial relationship they had with their loved one. Included in this group are stepchildren and legal guardians.
  • Spouse or domestic partner. The spouse of the deceased has lost a great deal with the death of the loved one. They are affected emotionally, psychologically, and financially.

A wrongful death lawsuit can help bring some closure to the deceased’s family.

There are a number of people or entities that may have been responsible for the death. These can include:

  • An actual person. Whether the death was intentional or accidental, if a person is the direct cause of your loved one’s death, that person can be brought to trial. An example would be a drunk driver who caused the crash in which your loved one died.
  • A property owner. If your loved one’s death is the result of negligence or dangerous conditions on someone else’s property, they could be held liable.
  • A government entity. If your loved one was killed in a crash with a municipal vehicle or died because of improper signage or dangerous roads that a municipality was required to maintain, they might be held liable.
  • A manufacturer. If your loved one’s death was caused by a device’s malfunction, it is likely that the manufacturer can be held liable for the death. An example could be a chainsaw that functioned improperly or a vehicle that had a systemic brake malfunction.
  • A malicious person. If your loved one was intentionally killed by someone else, you could pursue a wrongful death case in addition to the criminal charges that will be brought.

At OnderLaw , we will investigate the circumstances of the death to help you find out who is responsible, and we will pursue compensation from the at-fault party or parties.


A number of damages can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit. In California, a person can sue another for wrongful death and claims compensation for the following items:

  • Funeral and burial expenses. The cost of a funeral and burial can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Financial support. Few people want to think about money at these times, but the loss of a loved one also can mean the loss of a steady income. For most households that are living from paycheck to paycheck, the loss of income can be devastating.
  • Reasonable dollar value of household services. It may be that your loved one was handy around the house. Now that he or she is gone, the various chores that were easy for him or her will have to be hired out. Those costs can strain a family budget.
  • Loss of gifts and benefits. This is not limited to actual presents and bonuses or monetary matters. There is also the gift of friendship and the benefits of sharing a life with the deceased.
  • Loss of “love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society and moral support.” This more directly addresses the intangibles that a person brings into their relationships.
  • Loss of guidance. The loss of a spouse, parent, or child means that their effect on your family is gone, including the ability to go to them for counsel, input on decisions, or other ways that a person usually contributes to the overall life of their loved ones.
  • Loss of enjoyment and intimacy. A loss of a spouse or significant other removes that intimate part of the relationship that was shared exclusively with your loved one.

Proving Negligence in California / Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits

California’s statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit is two years, beginning on the date of the death of the person.

For your wrongful death lawsuit to be successful in California, you must show that someone’s error or omission caused the circumstances that led to the death. In California, everyone is responsible not to harm someone else, whether by something they do or by something they fail to do. Once you’ve shown that someone else’s actions caused the accident, you must next prove that the accident was the cause of your loved one’s death.

Finally, you must show that your loved one actually died. The death need not be immediate. If the injury or illness that caused your loved one’s death can be shown to be the result of someone else’s actions, you may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death. Remember, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until the actual date of death.

State Fatal Accident Statistics

There are no concrete statistics that can show the number of wrongful deaths in California. However, the California Office of Traffic Safety reports that there were 3,904 collisions involving at least one motor vehicle. Of these collisions, 3,582 had at least one fatality. These figures are for the year 2017.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 3,316 fatal crashes in 2019.

A report was released by the state of California that showed 451 deaths resulting from industrial accidents in 2019. The vast majority of those who died in an industrial accident (92%) were men. More men between the ages of 45-54 were killed on the job than any other age group. Roughly half (47%) of industrial deaths occurred to Hispanic or Latino people.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer? Why Choose OnderLaw ?

When considering whether or not to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, it is prudent to bring an attorney into the conversation. A lawyer can help you see whether or not you have a valid case and, if so, help prepare a thorough case that proves you’re entitled to compensation for your losses.

At OnderLaw , our goal is to walk beside you as your advocate through the maze of the legal system. We have experience working with those who have lost loved ones. We understand what you’re experiencing, and we can be your voice in dealing with the insurance company and defense attorneys. OnderLaw will help you and your loved ones find some closure in seeing that justice is done.

Don’t let a slim bank account prevent you from seeking the justice your loved one deserves. We will take no fee from you upfront. Should we accept your case, we will take an agreed-upon percentage out of the compensation we obtain for you. If we don’t get you any money, we don’t get paid.

Call OnderLaw Today

If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident that was someone else’s fault, call OnderLaw now. Our attorneys have years of experience in handling wrongful death cases, and we can help you, too. Call or contact us online. Your free consultation is just a call away.