Orange County’s Wrongful Death And Preventable Death Attorney

attorney derek pakiz and paralegal caroline la in suits in front of window in orange county

Featured in Newsweek’s Top 10 Trial Lawyers, The Reeves Law Group have been a trusted Orange County wrongful death attorney for over three decades in fatal accident and negligent homicide claims, and has recovered over $250,000,000 in verdicts and settlements. The firm has successfully represented victim’s family members throughout the Orange County area for over 30 years.

Derek and his team can competently represent you and help guide you through California’s legal system with confidence. With the firm’s steadfast commitment to every client, you can be assured that your family’s case will be dealt with the utmost care and empathy. You can rely on Reeves Law Group to deliver positive results so you can focus on your recovery and rebuilding your family’s life.

If a loved one has recently died wrongfully, contact our specialist personal injury law firm today. Call us at (714) 550-6000 for a free case review / consultation. We are available any day of the week to evaluate your case. The diligent and results-oriented trial attorney and legal support team at the Reeves Law Group in Orange County will stop at nothing so you can get the compensation you deserve for a wrongful death in your family.

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  • $250,000,000+ Recovered For Our Clients
  • Newsweek’s 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys
  • No Fee Guarantee – No Fees Unless We Win

Our personal injury law firm has been helping clients with serious injury and fatal/death cases in greater Orange County for over 30 years. Call (800) 644-8000 or contact us today for a free consultation.

Also feel free to browse the client reviews on our website from families that we were able to help with on their catastrophic injury or wrongful death case.

Can you Afford Our Services?

Yes! Our personal injury firm charge zero Dollars and no up-front fees for our legal services! Our law firm is very accessible and operates on a contingent fee basis where you won’t pay unless we win your case!
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orange county wrongful death lawyer

What does Wrongful Death Mean?

Wrongful death refers to a legal action in civil court where the survivors (usually family members or relatives) of a deceased individual seek compensation from those responsible for the person’s death. This claim is brought forward when the death results from another’s negligence or intentional harm (thus the definition of a wrongful death).

Key elements of such a case include proving the defendant’s liability and establishing the impact of the loss on the survivors. The lawsuit aims to provide financial redress for various damages, including emotional suffering, loss of financial support, and funeral expenses. While it cannot reverse the loss, a successful claim serves to hold the accountable party responsible, offering some measure of justice and support to the bereaved.

Common Causes?

Motor Vehicle Accidents

The most common cause of wrongful or preventable deaths in Orange County is car accidents. Deaths from motor vehicle accidents are often the result of negligence or misconduct behind the wheel. Drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians can be victims in these tragic incidents. Key attributes include reckless driving, intoxication, and distraction. These accidents often involve speeding, driving under the influence, or blatant violations of traffic laws, like ignoring signals or failing to yield. The fatal outcomes in such cases are usually due to the driver’s failure to adhere to safe driving practices, thereby putting themselves and others at significant risk.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when patients suffer fatal outcomes due to the negligence or incompetence of healthcare providers. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, California had the most reported medical malpractice cases out of any state, with 2,074 cases. This type of death involves doctors, hospitals, and medical staff who may have misdiagnosed a condition, administered incorrect treatments, or failed to recognize critical symptoms. Often, these incidents stem from improper surgical procedures or the use of substandard medical equipment. The key attributes in these cases are negligence, inadequacy, and a lack of skill, leading to actions like ignoring critical patient symptoms or performing incorrect surgeries, which ultimately result in patient death.

Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents leading to deaths usually occur in environments where safety regulations are neglected. Employees working with hazardous materials, heavy machinery, or in unsafe conditions are at risk. Employers or workplaces might be culpable due to their failure to provide adequate safety equipment, exposure to dangerous working conditions, or operation of machinery in an unsafe manner. These incidents are characterized by attributes such as hazard, negligence, and non-compliance with safety standards. The resulting deaths are often due to a failure in maintaining a safe work environment or neglecting essential safety measures. FYI, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in California during 2021, transportation incidents led to 142 fatal work injuries, while exposure to harmful substances or environments caused 103 fatalities.

Product Liability

In cases of product liability, wrongful death occurs due to the use of defective or unsafe products. Consumers may fall victim to products with design flaws, manufacturing defects, or inadequate warnings. The entities involved include manufacturers, retailers, and safety inspectors who might have failed to adequately test products, neglected to provide proper warnings, or distributed harmful products. The key attributes here are defectiveness, poor design, and inadequate safety testing. The fatal outcomes in such cases are often the result of negligence in various stages of product development and distribution.

Criminal Acts

Deaths resulting from criminal acts like murder, manslaughter, or assault involve intentional, unlawful, and violent actions. Victims of these heinous acts suffer at the hands of perpetrators who engage in premeditated or spontaneous criminal behavior. In these cases, entities like law enforcement and the legal system become crucial in addressing the aftermath. The main attributes of these wrongful deaths are their intentional nature, unlawfulness, and the violent methods used. The tragic outcomes are a direct result of the perpetrator’s deliberate decision to commit a violent crime, leading to the loss of life.



  • The OJ Simpson Civil Trial: Perhaps one of the most famous wrongful but intentional death cases is the OJ Simpson civil trial. Simpson, a former football player, sports broadcaster, and actor, was acquitted on criminal charges in 1995 for the slaying of Nicole Brown Simpson, his ex-wife, and Ronald Goldman, an acquaintance. However, in a subsequent civil trial in 1996, Simpson was found responsible for their deaths, and the victims’ families were awarded $33.5 million in damages. O.J. Simpson trial | Summary, Lawyers, Judge, Dates, Verdict, & Facts | Britannica
  • IKEA Dresser Incident: A wrongful death case was brought against IKEA due to defective products when a toddler was tragically crushed to death by an IKEA dresser that tipped over in 2017. This case led to a $46 Million Settlement and a product recall by IKEA in 2020 and brought attention to the dangers posed by furniture tip-over, prompting measures to enhance product safety.

Past Client Testimonials

“When my father was killed in a car accident from a drunk driver it felt like my whole world collapsed on me. It was the most stressful time in my life and it was a big blur. The whole thing took longer than I expected but the outcome was much more than I expected. I would recommend Robert Reeves to anyone who has a personal injury matter and needs serious help.”
Steven A. via Avvo
Review Rating: 5 / 5

Five Star Rating
Date Published: 03-08-2022

Additional Reviews

Yelp | Avvo

What Components are Required for a Wrongful Death?

In pursuing a wrongful death claim in California, it is crucial to establish that a human being’s death occurred, often necessitating investigation by a medical examiner. The death must be due to another’s negligence or intentional harm, excluding natural causes like cancer, but including deliberate acts such as shooting. Surviving family members must have suffered financial losses, including but not limited to loss of love, financial support, and physical support.

In these cases, the involvement of entities such as life insurance companies and the employer of the deceased can be pivotal, especially if the death occurred in the workplace. The California Department of Insurance might also play a role in overseeing insurance-related disputes. Probate courts and the State Bar Association could be relevant for legal proceedings and attorney regulations, respectively.

An experienced attorney will be vital in negotiating with insurance companies, who may attempt to deny responsibility or offer low settlements. The attorney will help substantiate claims, potentially litigating if necessary, and ensuring the burden of proof is met. They will also counsel the family through the process, considering both economic and non-economic damages, and possibly punitive damages in cases of egregious fault.

To secure fair compensation, the legal process may involve mediation or even a jury trial. Expert witnesses, such as forensic experts, could be called to testify about the cause of death. The attorney will manage the discovery process, audit claims, and consider legal precedents impacting the case. The apportionment of compensation among family members, conflict of interest issues, and understanding the statute of limitations and policy limits are also critical elements.

If there are minor beneficiaries, a guardian ad litem might be appointed. In cases where the deceased did not leave a will, intestate succession laws will dictate the distribution of assets. Comparative negligence might also be considered if the deceased had any role in the events leading to their death.

In resolving the claim, a survivorship action for the deceased’s suffering before death might be pursued alongside the wrongful death action. A mediation agreement or court adjudication will eventually conclude the process, with attorneys often working on contingency fees.

Who can File One of These Suits in Orange County?

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse or domestic partner.
  • Their surviving children, including children of any deceased child.
  • If there are no surviving children, any relative entitled to inherit under intestate succession laws, like parents or siblings.

Additionally, anyone financially dependent on the deceased, such as a putative spouse, their children, stepchildren, or the deceased’s parents, may also file a claim.

Your circumstances will always be different than someone else’s, and have it’s own set of pros and cons and mitigating factors–only a wrongful death-specialist lawyer can fully and properly evaluate your claim.

What’s the Time Limit for Filing a Plaintiff’s Lawsuit in the Event of a Death?

The general statute of limitations for plaintiff’s wrongful death claims in California is two years from the date of the deceased person’s death based on California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 CCP

This means that the lawsuit must be filed within two years after the death occurs. If the lawsuit is not filed within this time frame, the right to bring the claim is typically lost, barring some exceptions. It’s important to note that this time limit applies regardless of whether the death was caused by intentional or negligent acts.

There are, however, some exceptions to this rule, which might extend or shorten the filing deadline:

  • Discovery Rule: If the cause of death was not discovered immediately, and could not have been discovered with reasonable diligence, the statute of limitations may begin from the date the cause of death was discovered, or should have been discovered.
  • Government Entities: If the claim is against a government entity, the time limit to file a claim is usually much shorter – typically six months from the date of injury.
  • Minors: If the plaintiff is a minor, the statute of limitations may be extended. Minors often have until their 19th birthday to file a wrongful death lawsuit if their parent or guardian dies.
  • Criminal Activity: In cases where the death was caused by a criminal act, such as murder, the statute of limitations might be longer.

What is “Survival Action?”

A “survival action” in U.S.  is a unique legal process designed to seek compensation for the pain, suffering, and other losses that the deceased endured between the time of their injury and death.

This action is distinct from a wrongful death claim, which focuses on compensating the survivors for their loss. In a survival action, the claim is made on behalf of the deceased’s estate, essentially continuing a lawsuit that the deceased could have pursued if they had survived.

The primary purpose is to address the injurious impact of the defendant’s actions on the deceased during their pre-death period, emphasizing the painful experiences and losses they endured.

Key entities involved in a survival action include the deceased’s estate, which represents the interests and assets of the deceased, and the administrator or executor, who is responsible for managing the estate’s affairs, including legal claims. The defendant, typically alleged to be responsible for the deceased’s injury and subsequent death, is the party against whom the claim is filed. The legal proceedings take place within the courts, where the survival action is adjudicated. Beneficiaries or heirs of the estate, who stand to inherit from the deceased’s assets, also play a crucial role in these cases.

The attributes of a survival action are its compensatory nature, aiming to provide financial restitution for the pre-death suffering endured by the deceased. The process involves the estate’s executor managing the claim, alleging the defendant’s responsibility, and filing the action in court, with the ultimate goal of compensating the estate for the deceased’s injurious and painful experiences prior to their death.

How to Prove a Preventable or Deliberate Death Claim as Plaintiffs?

how to prove a wrongful death claim

When you hire an experienced plaintiff’s attorney, they become your advocate and support system. They will guide you through the complex legal proceedings while providing compassion and empathy for your loss. Their primary objective is to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation that you deserve.

For instance, imagine a scenario where a family loses their loved one in a fatal car accident caused by a negligent driver. With the help of a wrongful death-specialist attorney, they can navigate through the legal complexities while focusing on grieving and healing. The attorney conducts a comprehensive investigation, gathers evidence proving the other driver’s negligence, represents the family in negotiations with insurance companies, and, if necessary, takes the case to court.

A skilled attorney will take on various responsibilities throughout the duration of your case. These may include:

  • Investigation: To win a wrongful death claim, you need extensive proof of the incident and the responsible party’s liability. This includes physical evidence, photos, videos, surveillance, eyewitness accounts, accident and phone records, medical and death documents, expert testimonies, income details, written interrogatories, depositions, and other relevant documents. A high-powered law firm often employs specialists like private investigators or medical experts to build a strong case and determine the cause, liability, and compensation amount.
  • Legal Representation: Your attorney will serve as your legal representative, advocating for your rights and interests at every stage of the legal process. They will handle all communication with insurance companies, opposing counsel, and other involved parties on your behalf.
  • Case Evaluation: A wrongful death attorney will evaluate the strength of your case by assessing liability, damages, and potential compensation. This evaluation helps in determining the best course of action and expected outcomes for your particular situation.
  • Negotiation: Your attorney will engage in negotiations with insurance companies or opposing parties to reach a fair settlement. They have extensive experience in handling these discussions and are skilled negotiators who aim to secure maximum compensation for you.
  • Litigation: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, your attorney will be prepared to take your case to court. They will provide expert representation during trial proceedings, presenting evidence and arguments to persuade the jury or judge in favor of your claim.

What Damages Can I Recover?

Wrongful death damages are either for the deceased’s estate (covering funeral costs, final medical expenses, and lost future income) or for surviving family members (compensating for lost household services, financial support, and emotional support like love, attention, and guidance).

Are Wrongful Death Damages Taxable?

Money recovered from one of these lawsuits is usually tax-free, except for punitive damages and compensation for lost wages, which are taxable. Compensatory damages like medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship are non-taxable and don’t need to be reported as income on personal tax returns.

orange county personal injury attorney derek pakiz in office at his desk working and on the phone on a wrongful death lawsuit.

Advantages of Legal Representation For your Family’s Preventable Death

Losing a loved one due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another party is an emotionally devastating experience. It was preventable! During such trying times, pursuing legal action may not be at the forefront of your mind. However, seeking professional legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney with law offices in Orange County such as the Reeves Law Group can provide several crucial advantages in your pursuit of justice and compensation.

As each wrongful death case is unique, it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who has experience with successful outcomes, and can navigate the specific legalities associated with your particular scenario.

  • According to a 2020 study by Martindale-Hubbell, over 60% of individuals seeking legal assistance use online search engines to find local attorneys.
  • Research conducted by the National Law Review suggests that approximately one-third of all clients first contact their attorney via the internet.
  • According to Avvo, an online lawyer directory, there are more than 500 personal injury lawyers operating in Orange County, with a significant percentage practicing wrongful death law.

Why Choose Us?

free consultation with our wrongful death lawyer in orange county
  • Specialization: The Reeves Law Group in Orange County specializes in wrongful death cases, offering an in-depth understanding of the legal complexities and relevant laws. Their proven track record in handling similar cases demonstrates their expertise.
  • Proven Experience: With extensive experience in preventable and negligent death claims, the Reeves Law Group brings valuable skills and knowledge essential for building a compelling case, reflecting their proficiency in this legal area.
  • Resources: They have access to a wide range of resources and professional networks, including accident reconstructionists and medical experts, vital for constructing a robust case.
  • Empathy: Recognizing the emotional challenges of wrongful death claims, the Reeves Law Group provides compassionate and empathetic support, ensuring clients feel understood and supported throughout the legal process.
  • Communication Skills: The Reeves Law Group is known for effective communication, offering clear explanations of legal proceedings, prompt responses to queries, and regular updates on case progress, ensuring clients are well-informed and comfortable.
  • Success Rate: The firm’s success in negligent and deliberately caused fatal personal injury cases is well-documented through client testimonials and reviews, reflecting their ability to achieve favorable outcomes and high client satisfaction.


Derek pakiz orange county personal injury attorney posing in suit green background

Our law office has one of the highest-powered wrongful death attorneys in Orange County and perhaps California, and he understands the nature of these tragic and complex lawsuits, and has helped numerous clients through the difficult circumstances brought about by these tragic losses.

The Reeves Law Group in Orange County is here to ensure that you’re not alone in fighting for justice in a wrongful death plaintiff’s case. The law firm’s strength lies not only in its legal expertise and vast financial resources but also in its incredible care and attention to helping its clients. You can expect nothing less than compassionate service and unmatched dedication.

Dealing with a family member’s passing, medical bills, insurance companies, and funeral and burial expenses is not easy, we’re here to help.

If you have lost a loved one to a fatal accident, you may seek compensation for your loss. Call (714) 550-6000 or contact us for a free immediate consultation regarding your potential civil suit and monetary compensation that may be available.

Our law office serves Orange County, including Santa Ana, Anaheim, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton, Costa Mesa, Mission Viejo, Westminster, and surrounding communities. We extend our services to victims of personal injury in surrounding areas of Southern California.

[Written by Derek Pakiz. Article updated on January 22, 2024]