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Written by: Steven R. Clawson
| Read Time: 3 minutes

A wrongful death is when someone’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions cause another person to die. Certain surviving family members can bring a legal claim for damages.

While no amount of money will bring a loved one back, wrongful death claims can provide much needed financial support during this difficult time. Here are several examples of wrongful death cases in California that have made headlines in recent years.

Case Against O.J. Simpson

One of the biggest cases to make headlines involved the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. A jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty in the criminal trial.

Families of both victims subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Simpson. A jury found he was responsible for both deaths and awarded the surviving family members $33.5 million.

This trial has become one of the most talked about cases because it is an important reminder that you can be acquitted in a criminal trial and still held responsible in a civil case.

Civil cases have a lower burden of proof, which is why it’s crucial to explore your legal options with a skilled California wrongful death lawyer.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker, known for his role in the Fast & Furious film franchise, was killed when his Porsche Carrera GT struck a tree. The car caught fire, and both Walker and the driver died.

Walker’s daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging the lack of safety features and other design defects caused her father’s death after he was trapped inside the vehicle for over a minute until it caught fire. Porsche negotiated a confidential settlement with Walker’s daughter.

Phil and Brynn Hartman

This tragic case took place in 1998 when Brynn Hartman shot her husband and then turned the gun on herself. At the time of the murder-suicide, she was taking Zoloft for depression.

Brynn’s surviving family members filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Zoloft’s manufacturer.

Wrongful death lawsuits against drug manufacturers are not uncommon. Allegations include manufacturing and marketing dangerous drugs or failing to disclose all the potentially hazardous side effects.

Brynn’s family alleged that Zoloft caused her to go insane, and the side effects led her to commit the murder-suicide. Pfizer settled out of court for a confidential amount.


While this case doesn’t involve a celebrity, it was a landmark case for California. In 2015, Uber resolved a wrongful death lawsuit with a child’s family who was killed by a San Francisco Uber driver.

The family was crossing the street in a crosswalk when the Uber driver crashed into them. The driver was logged into the Uber app but was not transporting passengers in the vehicle at the time. Uber negotiated a confidential settlement with the child’s family.

This case marked a turning point in how California law addressed financial responsibility for rideshare companies. Despite Uber’s reluctance to accept responsibility, this led to new state law in 2015.

Rideshare companies must carry liability insurance to cover accidents when a driver is logged into the app, whether they are transporting passengers or searching for riders.

Contact a California Wrongful Death Lawyer

These are just a few examples of notable California wrongful death cases. If you lost a family member due to another party’s actions or inaction, you could have the legal right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

At Wells Call Injury Lawyers, we have decades of experience successfully resolving wrongful death claims. These are complex cases, and we aren’t afraid to go to trial if necessary. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.

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