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Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney

View Our Landmark Wrongful Death Cases

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 a wrongful death, the experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP can help you navigate the legal system and get the best results during a difficult time. We also handle cases of wrongful death in Orange County and across California.

Results the firm has obtained for families affected by a wrongful death include:

  • Allen et al v. City of Beverly Hills in which Brian Panish, Deborah Chang, Tom Schultz and Austin Ward obtained a $32.5 million settlement for two clients who were catastrophically injured and two clients whose father was killed in two collisions 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 and Kevin Boyle obtained a $17.45 million award for a man whose family was killed when a military jet crashed into his San Diego home.
  • Cuthbertson v. LACMTA, in which Brian Panish and Deborah Chang 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 and Kevin Boyle 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.
  • 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.
  • Martinez v. Whittier Uptown Association in which David Rudorfer and Tom Schultz obtained a $6,300,000 jury verdict for the family 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 & Boyle LLP write and speak frequently as experts on wrongful death and other consumer law topics.

Why Choose Us?

  • We have obtained record-setting settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of our wrongful death clients.
  • 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 win their cases.

When to Call an Attorney

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 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 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 an auto 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 case for signs of wrongdoing and help you bring a claim forward, if applicable.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?

One of our goals at Panish Shea & Boyle 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 services in Los Angeles and are prepared to answer your questions regarding potential costs. A case 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.

Wrongful Death Laws to Know in California

Wrongful death claims are a separate category from personal injury. They come with unique laws in California. Search for a wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles to walk you through the legal process, not just a personal injury 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 state’s most important statutes to help guide your claim.

  • Restrictions on who may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In California, the law gives the ability to file this type of suit to a surviving spouse, domestic partner or child. If these parties do not exist, anyone entitled to the deceased person’s property by intestate succession may file.
  • Damages available. Many different damages are recoverable through a wrongful death claim. A successful wrongful death lawsuit could result in payment for medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, the value of the decedent’s household services, lost inheritance and more.
  • Statute of limitations. Personal injury claims come with a common exception called the discovery rule, which tolls the deadline until the date of injury discovery. Wrongful death claims, however, have no such exception. The courts abide strictly by the two-year limit on most wrongful death cases.

Your lawyer can help you interpret California’s laws in relation to your specific wrongful death case. He or she can also help you follow the laws, so you do not miss anything important, such as a deadline or key filing requirement. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible after the death of a loved one to start your claim.

What Are the Most Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases or Claims?

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 & Boyle 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.

  • Auto accidents
  • Criminal activity
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Negligent security
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Premises accidents
  • Workplace incidents

Whether you lost your loved one in a common or unusual accident, we can help. We will investigate your case for signs of wrongdoing and help you build a claim against one or more at-fault parties in LA. We have experience going up against drivers, corporations, truck companies, product manufacturers, property owners and others in pursuit of justice.

What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claim and 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 differ. 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 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 and punitive damages. The California courts will determine an appropriate amount to award during a survival action.

Wrongful Death Verdicts & Settlements

  1. DOES v. Charter Airline Company $30,000,000
  2. Dominguez v. City and County of San Francisco $27,394,567
  3. Sherman v. Courrege $25,500,000
  4. Barber v. Mossy Ford $22,765,864
  5. Jackson v. State of California $20,100,000
  6. Yoon v. United States $17,845,000
  7. Cuthbertson v. LACMTA $17,000,000
  8. DOES v. Engine Manufacturer $16,750,000
  9. Wu v. Singapore Airlines $15,000,000
  10. DOES v. Auto Manufacturer $14,500,000
  11. DOES v. Auto Manufacturer $14,000,000
  12. Preza v. City of Hawthorne $13,000,000
  13. DOES v. National Airlines $13,000,000
  14. DOES v. Charter Airline Company $12,000,000
  15. Witham v. Avjet $11,000,000
  16. DOES v. National Airlines $11,000,000
  17. Villamariona v. CBS $10,450,000
  18. Cisler v. Capistrano Unified School $10,000,000
  19. Garcia v. Marine Terminal Operator $10,000,000
  20. DOES v. Helicopter Manufacturer $9,900,000
  21. Guerrero v. Waste Management $ 9,900,000
  22. Rastello v. City of Torrance $8,000,000
  23. Vega Family v. Verizon $7,000,000
  24. Fodor v. Does $6,000,000
  25. Vasquez v. Doe Oil Refinery $6,000,000
  26. Teraberanyans v. Browning Ferris $4,500,000
  27. Doe v. North Bay $3,950,000
  28. Griffiths v. Dole $2,750,000
  29. Colmenares v. Doe $2,750,000
  30. Hathaway v. Allstate $2,600,000
  31. Acosta v. Alsco $2,200,000
  32. Custodio v. O’Sullivan Construction $1,800,000
  33. Bye v. Lousiana Pacific $1,500,000
  34. Altman v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) $1,500,000
  35. Poulos v. Long Beach Transit (LBT) $1,200,000
  36. Karavani v. Reddick $1,200,000
  37. Watt v. Long $1,100,000


The dedicated team at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP are ready to serve as the strength by your side during this difficult time. Contact our Los Angeles team for a free consultation (310) 477-1700.


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