If you lost a family member in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation. The Stockton personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw could review the facts surrounding your loved one’s death to determine the available legal options. You should not be responsible for the resulting expenses if another party’s actions were entirely to blame for the fatal incident.

At OnderLaw , we understand how much losing someone you love can affect your life. It’s a devastating and life-altering experience. You face not only emotional anguish but also economic burdens as you’re paying final medical bills and arranging a funeral. You could end up in debt and suffer significant stress if you can’t afford these costs.

Our Stockton wrongful death lawyers know the challenges ahead as you grieve your loss and cope with what happened. No amount of money can make up for this tragic accident, but obtaining compensation from the at-fault party could relieve your financial strain. You can depend on OnderLaw to fight for you and your family and pursue the justice you deserve.

Call us for a free consultation to learn about our services and how we can help you with your case.

What Is Wrongful Death?

California law defines wrongful death as a death someone causes through a wrongful act or neglect. Cases like this are often based on negligence. Negligence is the failure of one person to take reasonable care in avoiding causing injury or death to another.

A wrongful death case is much different than a criminal case. When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you attempt to secure compensation from the at-fault party for the monetary losses you suffered. Pressing criminal charges against the person responsible for someone’s death means they could face fines, imprisonment, and other penalties.

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

Multiple parties could be at fault for wrongful death. The person you can hold liable for the losses you suffered will depend on the type of accident they caused. Sometimes the responsible party is a person, and sometimes the fault lies with a corporation or government entity. The most common causes of wrongful death include:

  • Car, bicycle, motorcycle, and pedestrian collisions
  • Occupational hazards
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dangerous drugs
  • Defective products
  • Poorly maintained properties
  • Abuse or neglect of a nursing home patient
  • A dog bite or attack


You can file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are one of these surviving family members:

  • A spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren


If there isn’t anyone still alive in the victim’s line of descent, the next parties that could pursue a case would be ones that would be entitled to the deceased’s property through intestate succession. That means the closest living relatives will receive assets the deceased party owned. The closest living relatives are usually surviving parents or siblings.

If anyone can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased, they could also file a wrongful death suit. These individuals may include:

  • Putative spouse
  • Children of the putative spouse
  • Stepchildren
  • Parents or legal guardians, if there isn’t a surviving parent


You can pursue this type of case alone or along with other surviving relatives. A judge can review the losses you and your family suffered from the death and determine how much each person should receive.


It’s your right to seek compensation for your losses. Losses fall under two main categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic losses involve financial expenses, such as:

  • The reasonable monetary value of household services no longer provided by the deceased
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Financial support the deceased could have provided to the family if they were still alive
  • Loss of benefits or gifts from the deceased


Noneconomic losses are intangible. They are based on physical and emotional suffering endured after a loved one’s death. They include:

  • Loss of guidance from the deceased
  • Loss of intimacy enjoyed by the spouse or partner
  • Lost love, care, companionship, assistance, affection, protection, moral support, and comfort


There is no cap on the amount of compensation you can receive in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if your family member died from medical malpractice, the court could limit your financial recovery for noneconomic losses to $250,000.

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

Every state has a statute of limitations for cases filed with the civil court. This is the specific timeframe someone must observe if they want to sue another party for compensation for their losses.

In California, there’s a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits. That means you must initiate your case within two years of the date your loved one died. If two years pass and you try to file suit afterward, the court will likely dismiss your case.

It’s possible to recover the total financial award necessary to recoup your economic losses and compensate for your noneconomic losses. However, if your loved one’s actions contributed to their fatal injury, a jury could use pure comparative negligence to diminish the compensation you receive.

Under this statute, a jury can reduce an accident victim’s losses by the percentage of fault they share. For example, if your relative’s death caused $100,000 in losses, but a jury finds they were 20 percent to blame for their own death, you would receive no more than $80,000.

Stockton and California Fatal Accident Statistics

Wrongful death can happen in any type of accident. Occupational injuries and illnesses are some of the most common reasons for fatalities in California. In 2019, 451 workers died from fatal injuries on the job. That’s a rate of 2.5 deaths per 100,000 employees.

The 45 to 54 age group accounted for 23 percent of work-related fatalities, the highest number than any other age group. Additionally, 414 men died while performing the duties of their employment, while fatal occupational injuries killed only 37 women.

Recorded cases of deaths involving specific events in 2019 included:

  • Transportation incidents – 141 fatalities
  • Falls, slips, and trips – 88 fatalities
  • Contact with objects and equipment – 55 fatalities
  • Exposure to harmful substances – 66 fatalities
  • Assaults and other violent acts – 94 fatalities
  • Other – 7 fatalities


Car accidents commonly cause wrongful death as well. Drivers tailgate other vehicles, exceed the speed limit, run red lights, and behave recklessly at the wheel. When that happens, the occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are at risk of injuries and fatalities.

In 2019, there were 3,316 fatal crashes in California, resulting in 3,606 deaths. The percentages of occupant fatalities were:

  • Motorcyclists – 13%
  • Car – 33%
  • Pedestrians – 27%
  • Large trucks – 1%
  • Bicyclists – 4%
  • Pickups and SUVs – 19%


Thirty-eight fatal traffic accidents happened the same year in Stockton, causing 40 fatalities. Twenty-six pedestrians and five intoxicated individuals were involved in these deadly crashes.

Older adults living in nursing homes face a risk of death in instances of abuse and neglect. The National Council on Aging estimates that one in ten adults age 60 and older experience abuse. Additionally, statistics show that abused elders have a 300 percent higher risk of death than those who haven’t been abused.

According to data obtained by WalletHub, California is one of three states with the highest prevalence of elder abuse.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer? Why Choose OnderLaw ?

Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience for anyone to endure. It’s even more tragic when you find out that the negligent party could have prevented it from happening. You deserve the chance to hold the at-fault individual or company liable for what they have done. Unfortunately, it can be a tedious and confusing process to face alone.

The Stockton wrongful death lawyers of OnderLaw can take over your lawsuit, so you don’t face the overwhelming responsibility while you’re dealing with your grief. We have been handling wrongful death cases successfully since 2002. Our legal team works hard to meet the needs of our clients and try to reach the best possible outcome in each case.

OnderLaw holds an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubbell for our legal abilities and ethical standards. We have also received recognition from organizations, such as Super Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and The National Trial Lawyers for our achievements and dedication to accident victims and their families.

We know most people can’t afford the costs associated with a relative’s death. When you’re trying to find a way to pay those bills, the last thing you want to deal with is additional expenses. We take cases on contingency, so you’re not responsible for any upfront fees or costs. If we secure compensation for you, we will take a percentage of it for our legal fees. If we lose your case, you won’t have to pay us anything.

Contact OnderLaw

At OnderLaw , our Stockton wrongful death lawyers are ready to fight by your side against the negligent party that caused your loved one’s death. We know how to negotiate insurance settlements and litigate cases like this in court. You will have a dedicated and knowledgeable team in your corner to help you hold the at-fault individual or company accountable for their wrongdoing.

If your loved one suffered a fatal injury or died in an accident due to another person’s careless or reckless behavior, call OnderLaw today for your free consultation. Let us be your advocate and seek the justice you and your family deserve.