It’s reasonable to expect that you’ll lose a loved one at some point or another, either due to illness or old age. However, it can be painful and traumatic to experience the sudden loss of a loved one due to an accident, especially one that could’ve been prevented. If you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident in Irvine, you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact the Irvine personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw to provide you and your family with compassionate and top-notch legal representation. Give us a call or contact us online to schedule a FREE consultation.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death occurs when someone is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another person. A wrongful death lawsuit is not to be confused with criminal prosecution—the two are separate and distinct. However, criminal charges may be related to the fatality. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed in civil court to attempt to recover financial compensation from the at-fault party.

There are several instances in which a wrongful death may occur, such as negligence-based accidents (motor vehicle accidents), medical malpractice, and intentional acts (crimes). As with other personal injury accidents, compensation comes in the form of “damages” payable to the immediate family (spouse, children, or parents) of the decedent.

Who Could Be Held Responsible?

If a negligent party is found to be responsible for the death of your loved one, they can be held responsible for paying damages to you and your family.

  • Wrongful death lawsuits may be brought against hospitals or physicians for improper care or medical malpractice leading to death.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits may also be brought against motorists who drive irresponsibly, recklessly, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs and cause someone’s death.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits can also be brought against companies that market or manufacture a defective product or device that leads to a person’s death.
  • Wrongful death settlements may be paid by an employer who failed to maintain safe conditions for employees or actively placed them in harmful conditions.


Who Is Eligible to Bring a Claim?

According to the California wrongful death statute, those eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • the decedent’s spouse or domestic partner
  • the decedent’s children
  • the grandchildren of the decedent in the event the children of the decedent are deceased


If the deceased has no survivors in their line of descent, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by the decedent’s parents or siblings, depending on who is living at the time of death.

Additionally, the following people can seek to file a wrongful death lawsuit if they can prove that they were financially or otherwise dependent on the decedent:

  • the decedent’s putative spouse. This is someone who, in good faith, mistakenly believed they were in a lawful marriage with the decedent at the time of their death
  • children of the decedent’s putative spouse
  • the decedent’s step-children
  • the decedent’s parents
  • the legal guardians of the decedent in the event the parents of the decedent are deceased


Compensation for Wrongful Death

Compensation for wrongful death is not unlike other personal injury cases. However, there are some differences. The most common forms of compensation available to the family of the decedent following a wrongful death include:

  • Medical expenses. You may be entitled to seek compensation for the medical expenses incurred due to the accident that led to your loved one’s death. Medical expenses include x-rays, MRIs, hospital and emergency room visits, transportation by ambulance, transportation by airlift, surgery, prescriptions, and more.
  • Loss of income. If you were financially dependent on the decedent, you may choose to recover damages for the loss of income you experience following their death. Compensation may include present and future lost income.
  • Loss of benefits. If you relied on the decedent for access to insurance, medical care, and other benefits, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of benefits you experience following their passing.
  • Loss of inheritance. If you’re the child or other dependent of the decedent, you may have lost out on your ability to claim your inheritance. If this is the case for you, you can seek to recover damages for your loss of inheritance.
  • Cost of funeral and burial. You could to seek compensation for the cost of the funeral and burial associated with the death of a loved one following an accident. Compensation could include the cost of urns, cremation, caskets, and more.
  • Loss of enjoyment. Following the death of a loved one, it’s likely you’ll experience a decline in your overall quality of life. As a result, you may be entitled to recover damages for the loss of enjoyment of life you experience following the wrongful death of a loved one.
  • Loss of consortium. You might seek compensation for the loss of your loved one’s love, companionship, and guidance, otherwise known as the loss of consortium.
  • Exemplary damages. Exemplary damages come into play when it’s clear that your loved one’s death was caused by another person’s malicious intent to cause them harm, to oppress them, or to defraud them. If a court finds this to be the case for your loved one, you may be entitled to exemplary damages in addition to other forms of compensation. An award of exemplary damages can only be made by the court.


Proving Negligence in California

To prove another person was negligent in a wrongful death case in California, you’ll need to provide evidence that the other person owed it to your loved one to exercise caution and good judgment when choosing to act or standby, they failed to do so, and that failure is what caused or led to the accident which ultimately killed your loved one.

For example, say that another driver decides to run a red light and collides with the vehicle of your loved one who was traveling on a green light, killing them instantly. The other driver is at fault for the accident because they failed to exercise caution and good judgment when they ran the red light. They could be held accountable for their negligent behavior.

Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits in California is two years from the date of death. Should you fail to submit a claim within the timeframe allowed, your case will likely be dismissed. Should that occur, you will lose out on the compensation that could be available to you and your family.

One of the many reasons it’s important to seek legal counsel following an accident is that a skilled and experienced attorney can keep you informed of deadlines or other obligations you need to fulfill in order to ensure that you’ll receive the full amount of compensation available to you.

California Fatal Accident Statistics

People are fatally injured throughout the U.S. each day through various means such as motor vehicle accidents, work-related accidents, or other unfortunate events. We’ve collected a small sample of statistics in an effort to show you what the numbers look like in the state of California:

  • According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,316 people were involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents in the state of California in 2019.
  • Data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) found that 376 workers were fatally injured in California in 2017.
  • According to, 46 dog-bite-related fatalities occurred throughout the U.S. in 2020.


Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer can help investigate your claim, gather medical documents and other relevant paperwork, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to try to secure the full amount of compensation available to you following the wrongful death of your loved one.

When you’re grieving, it can be difficult for you to go through the lengthy and tiresome process of gathering the evidence necessary to bring a wrongful death claim to court. Fortunately, a compassionate and experienced lawyer can help you through this trying time by taking on the burden of filing a wrongful death claim on your behalf.

Why Choose OnderLaw ?

For nearly two decades, the lawyers at OnderLaw have been a trusted resource for those who’ve been victimized in wrongful death and other personal injury cases. Over the years, we’ve recovered over $12 million in damages for those killed in wrongful death cases in Irvine and beyond.

Our firm and many of our attorneys are featured members of many prestigious legal organizations throughout the nation. We’re proud to boast of our membership in The American Trial Lawyers Association, The American Society of Legal Advocates, and Rue Ratings Best Attorneys of America.

Choosing OnderLaw means choosing some of the most competent, skilled, and experienced lawyers in the U.S. We’re ready, willing, and prepared to fight on your behalf to secure the compensation owed to you.

Contact an Irvine Wrongful Death Attorney

If your loved one was killed in a wrongful death accident in Irvine, contact OnderLaw . Contact us online or give us a call to schedule a FREE consultation. You won’t owe us payment until we secure compensation for you.