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Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney

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A wrongful death — one that was caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct — is especially hard for the families who must carry on. Losing a loved one results in more than just the emotional impact; families must also contend with loss of income, loss of support, and costs related to the death.

If you are considering legal action related to wrongful death, the experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP can help you navigate the legal system and get the best results during a difficult time.

Why Choose Panish | Shea | Ravipudi for Your Wrongful Death Claim?

  • We have obtained record-setting settlements and jury verdicts for fatal accidents.
  • We succeed in over 99% of cases we take. Our results have surpassed $2 billion for past clients throughout California.
  • We are skilled negotiators who understand how to deal with insurance companies, even when the insurer is denying accountability.
  • We are here to help you and your family through this difficult time. We can work closely with you throughout the entire process, not just while filing your claim.
  • We accept wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only charge our clients if we recover financial compensation for them.

Meet Your Attorneys

Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP has extensive experience with the often complicated lawsuits that arise after an injury or death caused by another’s negligence or misconduct. Our attorneys have been repeatedly recognized for excellence by other trial attorneys, legal organizations and publications nationwide. The firm has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® as a “Tier 1” Firm in the areas of Plaintiffs Personal Injury Litigation, Plaintiffs Product Liability Litigation and Plaintiffs Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – the highest ranking a firm can receive – and is recognized as being among the top Plaintiff’s law firms in the country by the National Law Journal.

Here’s What Our Clients Are Saying

Moratya v. City of Bakersfield

“When we lost our Dad from substantial injuries to negligence we were devastated. Even though we knew that the Defendants accepted fault, it was still a fight like David and Goliath with us going against the City of Bakersfield at trial. Yet we had the strength and courage with Brian Panish and Deborah Chang on our side. They fought this battle with professionalism, dedication, and integrity. Through perseverance and prayer, Goliath went down and we won the victory with one of the highest wrongful death verdicts in Kern County… On behalf of the Morataya family, words cannot explain the gratitude. Thank you to the most warmest staff a legal firm can have. You were all very welcoming from the beginning to the end. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you again for believing in us.” – Erika and Cindy Morataya

Cuthbertson v. LACMTA

“I thank god that he led us to you after the death of my son Cameron. The combination of your perfectionism and personalism made the ordeal much better. The final verdict was a result of your steadfast legal work. You didn’t leave a stone unturned. I was impressed with how you made the “top” people accountable. You respected us as clients and treated us as “family”. I can never thank you enough. Many will benefit from your great work.” – Mary Cuthbertson

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Do I Have a Wrongful Death Case?

The death of a loved one is always a tragedy, but it will only qualify a family for a civil lawsuit in certain circumstances.

First, the death of the victim must meet the state’s definition of wrongful death. California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60 defines wrongful death as a death from the wrongful act or neglect of another person. You will only have grounds for a claim if someone else caused or substantially contributed to your family member’s death, such as a drunk driver or negligent doctor.

Second, you must be within your statute of limitations. You have two years from the day your loved one died to bring a wrongful death claim, in most cases. If you miss this deadline, a lawyer may be unable to help you. The courts in Los Angeles generally refuse late cases on principle, with few exceptions. If you are not sure whether you have missed the deadline to file your case, speak to an attorney for assistance.

A Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer will understand how to handle your claim to maximize the odds of success. Call an attorney if your loved one lost his or her life in a car accident, workplace accident, fall, animal attack, act of violence or another circumstance that could point to someone else’s fault. A lawyer can review your wrongful death case for signs of wrongdoing and help you bring a claim forward, if applicable.

We are here to help you and your family through this difficult time.

How Much Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost?

One of our goals at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP is to make the legal process as simple and rewarding as possible for our clients. We understand that people who come to us for help are going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We are not here to add to the burden with high legal fees or hidden costs. We are upfront and straightforward about our fees, which we charge on a contingency basis.

  • Free initial consultations
  • No upfront costs to retain our services
  • Zero attorney’s fees if we do not win
  • Pre-approved fee arrangement before we start your case
  • Fees deducted directly from your settlement or verdict if we win
  • No out-of-pocket legal fees or court costs, ever
  • No hidden costs or surprise service fees

We pride ourselves on providing honest, dependable and affordable legal representation in Los Angeles and are prepared to answer your questions regarding potential costs. A wrongful death suit that requires a trial, for example, may have higher legal fees. We will never leave you in the dark about how much we charge and when.

California Wrongful Death Laws

Wrongful death claims are a separate category from personal injury. They come with unique laws in California. Search for a wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles to walk you through the legal process, not just any lawyer. These cases are unique and require particular legal experience. An attorney will understand the laws, so you do not have to. In the meantime, learn a few of the most important statutes to help guide your claim according to California law.

    Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

    Under California law, a wrongful death claim can only be filed by a victim’s surviving spouse. If the victim was unmarried, then by their legal heir – usually a child, parent, or sibling. California’s restrictions on the filing of wrongful death claims exist to ensure that the right to recover compensation is exclusively reserved to the victim’s most immediate family members.

    In some cases, California law allows an individual who is not legally married to the victim to file a wrongful death claim, as long as they believe they were married to the victim. This legal principle is known as the putative spouse doctrine. How does this scenario happen?

    Sometimes, people enter into a second marriage without finalizing a divorce or annulment from their first marriage. Legally speaking, a person cannot get married unless they are single, so the second marriage is considered legally defective – as if it never occurred. When one spouse dies and the surviving “spouse” seeks to file a wrongful death claim, the putative spouse doctrine allows the claim to go forward even though the marriage was legally defective.

    What Damages Can I Recover From a Wrongful Death Case?

    The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to allow family members to recover compensation for their own injuries resulting from the death of their loved one. The most common types of damages in wrongful death cases include the following:

    • Medical bills and expenses passed onto the family
    • Funeral and burial expenses
    • Loss of income and financial support
    • Loss of love, companionship, and family contributions, including household services

    All damages in a California wrongful death claim are compensatory, meaning family members will not be required to pay taxes on their recovery in most cases.

    Unlike personal injury cases, wrongful death cases do not account for the victim’s own injuries. However, damages for the victim’s injuries can be recovered in a separate suit called a “survivor action,” which is discussed in more detail below.

    How Long Do I Have To File a Wrongful Death Claim?

    In California, a wrongful death case must be filed within two years of the victim’s death, and the state’s courts strictly adhere to this rule. While exceptions are sometimes made for other types of injury claims, wrongful death claims are subject to rare exceptions.

    A wrongful death lawyer will interpret California law relevant to your specific case, ensuring that you understand and comply with all deadlines and filing requirements. It is crucial that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the passing of a loved one to start your claim.

    What Are the Most Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases?

    Any circumstance in which one or more parties contribute to the death of someone else could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit in California. At Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP, we have helped hundreds of clients claim damages after tragic and unexpected accidents resulting in the death of a loved one. In our experience, certain types of accidents result in wrongful death claims in LA more often than others.

    Car Accidents

    Over the past decade, more than 3,600 Californians died in car accidents each year. Many of these accidents are caused by wrongful acts committed by other drivers. When a driver disobeys traffic laws, such as speeding, disregarding stop signs, and failing to yield, they are deemed negligent. If this negligence leads to a crash resulting in the death of another person, the driver and their insurance company can be sued for damages in a wrongful death case.

    Criminal Activity

    When a person is killed by the criminal acts of another individual, a civil lawsuit can follow in addition to criminal charges. After the criminal proceedings are over, a victim’s family can and should bring a wrongful death action to recover damages for their losses. However, these cases are only successful against certain types of defendants. Our wrongful death attorneys can help you determine if a civil lawsuit involving a criminal defendant is a good choice for your family.

    Medical Malpractice

    Wrongful death cases stemming from medical malpractice are among the most devastating to handle. These cases involve the tragic loss of a patient who placed immense trust in their doctors and healthcare providers. When medical malpractice leads to a patient’s death, the family has every right to seek compensation for their loss through a wrongful death action.

    Workplace Accidents

    A grave injustice occurs when a company fails to protect its employees from hazardous conditions on the job. In workplaces that use dangerous equipment and heavy machinery, companies are required to follow certain regulations for worker safety. When a company disregards or fails to abide by these regulations, and a worker perishes from injuries sustained on the job, the company may be liable to the worker’s family for their loss.

    Premises Accidents

    Owners and operators of buildings that are open to the public have a duty to ensure that their premises are clear of risks and hazards to people who visit – and that their visitors are appropriately warned of those risks. If a person dies from an injury that happened on property owned by another person or entity, then they may be liable for damages in a wrongful death case. The most common example of a premises liability case is a slip-and-fall, but any type of injury can give rise to a premises liability claim.

    Wrongful death lawsuits can arise from any factual circumstance in which a person dies due to the wrongful acts or omissions of another person. In addition to those previously stated, common situations for wrongful death lawsuits include:

    No matter the fatal activity or accident that caused your loved one’s death, we can help. Our attorneys will investigate your case for signs of wrongdoing and build a wrongful death claim against the at-fault parties. Our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys have experience going up against drivers, corporations, truck companies, product manufacturers, property owners and others in pursuit of justice.

    Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions

    How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Los Angeles?

    In most cases, you have a two-year window from the day your loved one passed away to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles. Missing this deadline could potentially limit a lawyer’s ability to assist you. The courts in Los Angeles county generally follow a policy of rejecting cases filed after this time frame, with a few exceptions. If you’re unsure whether you’ve exceeded the deadline for filing your case, it’s recommended to seek guidance from an attorney.

    Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

    Under California law, certain individuals have the legal entitlement to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s important to note that only one wrongful death claim is allowed, encompassing all other parties that are eligible for compensation, who can be designated as plaintiffs within that single claim. Individuals who are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California include:

    • The spouse of the deceased
    • Domestic partner
    • Children
    • Grandchildren (in cases where the children of the deceased are no longer living)
    • Parents or siblings, if no living spouse/partner or children exist
    • Stepchildren or minors who were financially reliant on the deceased for at least 50% of their financial support
    • Additional parties who could inherit from the deceased in accordance with California’s intestate succession laws

    What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Claim?

    After losing a loved one in an accident, you and your family may be able to bring two different types of civil claims. One, a wrongful death claim, serves to compensate surviving loved ones for their damages. Another, a survival action, provides compensation to the decedent’s estate for his or her specific losses. Surviving family members may bring a wrongful death claim, while only a representative of the estate may file a survival action. The representative will have the later of six months after the death or two years from the wrongful act to file a survival action.

    The damages available in each of the claims differ as well.

    A wrongful death action focuses on reimbursing the family for the emotional and financial losses they suffered because of the death. These may include compensation awards for mental anguish, psychological trauma, lost parental guidance, lost spousal love and support, lost household duties, reasonable funeral and burial expenses and medical bills the family paid. Dependents will have to establish the economic damages they experienced after the loss of life to obtain an award.

    A survival cause of action could result in compensation similar to what the deceased person could have received in a personal injury claim, had his or her injuries not been fatal. Recovery amounts could cover personal property repairs, medical expenses, the loved one’s lost wages, lost inheritance, out-of-pocket expenses, funeral expenses, and punitive damages. The California courts will determine an appropriate amount to award during a survival action.

    Recently, the California legislature amended the law to allow an estate to recover damages for pain, suffering, and disfigurement in any survival action brought between January 1, 2022 and January 1, 2026. 

    How to Prove a Wrongful Death Case in California

    While damages in a wrongful death case are different from a personal injury case, the lawsuit itself is not much different. Winning a wrongful death suit in California requires a plaintiff to prove that an underlying wrongful act occurred which caused the victim’s death – either by negligence, recklessness, or an intentional wrongful act. After a surviving family member proves the underlying wrongful act, he or she is entitled to damages in their wrongful death case.


    A vast majority of personal injury actions – wrongful death and otherwise – arise from negligent acts. Negligence is conduct that deviates from ordinary care that reasonable people would take. In other words, a person commits negligence when they act in a manner that is unreasonable. Common examples of negligence that can give rise to wrongful death lawsuits include:

    • Speeding or dangerous driving
    • Driving under the influence
    • Disregarding a safety protocol on the job
    • Failing to maintain a piece of heavy machinery

    The specific elements of a negligence action will vary based on the type of parties involved and the relationships between them, because an important part of negligence is establishing a duty between the plaintiff and the defendant. That duty looks different depending on the type of relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. For example, businesses that are open to the public are held to a higher standard of care than a person in their private home.


    Recklessness is an act or omission more severe than negligence – when a person acts with deliberate indifference or disregard to an ordinary standard of care, but doesn’t necessarily intend to injure another person. For example, consider the following: a truck driver is tasked with following a set of routine maintenance and safety checks that must be completed before each trip he makes. If the driver intentionally chooses to disregard his safety checks, and that later causes an accident, the driver would be reckless instead of negligent. Even though the truck driver did not intend to cause an injury, the driver was aware of the safety checks being in place, and consciously chose to disregard them. Cases arising from reckless conduct are often easier to prove than cases stemming from negligence.


    Wrongful Death Verdicts & Settlements

    Our firm has extensive experience in advocating for California families who have lost loved ones due to negligence or recklessness. While our past experience cannot guarantee your future success, a few examples of cases we’ve won include the following:

    • DOES v National Company in which the firm secured a settlement of $50,000,000 in a case involving an explosion.
    • DOES v. Trucking Company in which the firm secured a settlement of $39,500,000 in a case involving a truck accident.
    • Allen et al v. City of Beverly Hills in which Brian Panish and Tom Schultz obtained a $32.5 million settlement for two clients who were catastrophically injured and two clients whose father was killed in two car accidents on Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, California.
    • Sherman v. Courrege, in which Brian Panish obtained a $25.5 million jury verdict for the survivors of a family of three killed by a drunk driver.
    • Lee v. Pupil Transportation Cooperative in which Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman obtained a $23.5 million settlement for the parents of Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, a non-verbal autistic student who was left aboard a school bus on one of the hottest days of the year.
    • Yoon v. United States, in which Brian Panish obtained a $17.45 million award for a man whose family was killed when a military jet crashed into his San Diego home.
    • DOES v. Multinational Delivery Company in which the firm secured a settlement of $17,250,000 in a case involving a truck accident.
    • Cuthbertson v. LACMTA, in which Brian Panish obtained a $17 million verdict for the mother of a visually impaired man who was killed when he slipped between rail cars and was crushed by a train.
    • Wu v. Singapore Airlines in which Brian Panish obtained a $15 million jury verdict for the children of two people killed in the crash of Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400.
    • Preza v. City of Hawthorne in which Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Erika Contreras obtained a $13 million settlement for the family of woman killed by a speeding police car.
    • DOES v. Furniture Company in which the firm secured a settlement of $12,000,000 in a case involving a truck accident.
    • DOES v. ROE in which the firm secured a settlement of $12,000,000 in an auto accident case.
    • Pierce v. Murrieta Valley Unified School District in which Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman obtained a $11 million settlement for the family of a 13 year old middle school student who drowned during a school-sponsored swim party.
    • Cisler v. Capistrano Unified School District in which Brian Panish and Tom Schultz obtained a $10 million verdict for the parents of a young boy who died on a school bus on his way home from preschool when he was strangled by the straps of his wheel chair.
    • Corona v Orange Unified School District in which the firm secured a settlement of $7,500,000 in a premises liability case.
    • Bermas v Waterstone Garden Investments in which the firm secured a settlement of $7,500,000 in a premises liability case.
    • Martinez v. Whittier Uptown Association in which David Rudorfer and Tom Schultz obtained a $6,300,000 jury verdict for the family members of a man who suffered fatal injuries as a result of being struck by a vendor vehicle at a Farmers’ Market.
    • Troupe v. Pavestone, LLC in which Adam Shea, Ryan Casey and Nicholas Yoka obtained a $5,000,000.00 compensatory verdict, and a finding by the jury that Defendant’s conduct warranted imposing punitive damages, for the parents of 22-year old man killed by a big rig whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.

    The Los Angeles personal injury attorneys from Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP write and speak frequently as experts on wrongful death lawsuits and other consumer law topics.

    Request a Free Consultation With Our Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyers

    If you are grieving the passing of a loved one, we understand that you are going through the worst time of your life. While nothing can truly make up for the death of a family member, the law provides that you can seek compensation for the losses you have suffered due to another person’s wrongful act or neglect. In some ways, a wrongful death lawsuit is an act of justice by holding bad actors accountable for causing another person’s untimely demise.

    The dedicated team at Panish | Shea| Ravipudi LLP is ready to serve as the strength by your side during this difficult time. We’re proud to offer free consultations to prospective clients. Contact our office today to set up an appointment with a member of our team.

    Serving These Areas Around Los Angeles, CA and More

    Downtown Los Angeles | Hollywood | West Hollywood | Beverly Hills | Santa Monica | Venice | Malibu | Pasadena | Long Beach | Glendale | Burbank | Culver City | Westwood | Silver Lake | Echo Park | Koreatown | San Pedro | West Los Angeles | Boyle Heights | Eagle Rock | Sherman Oaks | North Hollywood | Encino | Studio City | Bel Air | Pacific Palisades | West Los Angeles | Highland Park | Manhattan Beach

    We also handle cases of wrongful death in Orange County and across California.

    How Can We Help You?

    If you have a legal matter you would like to discuss with an attorney from our firm, please call us at (310) 477-1700 or complete and submit the e-mail form below, and we will get back to you.

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