Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

The wrongful death of a loved one is a shocking and distressing event no one should ever have to experience. In addition to the devastating emotional impact, wrongful death can bring about financial insecurity and stress. Even though going through the motions of taking legal action is probably one of the last things on the mind of someone who has just lost someone dear to them, it may be the best way to secure you and your family the financial support you need during this tough time.

In this blog post, our Santa Clarita wrongful death attorney will example what constitutes wrongful death, who can file a claim, and what damages are available. Read on to learn more.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury civil lawsuit that arises when a person is killed as the result of the wrongful act or negligence of an individual or entity. A wrongful death claim is diffident from a criminal claim because in most cases the deceased was killed by accident rather than an intentional act. However, wrongful death claims occasionally involve putative damages or may even be filed along with criminal charges.

Wrongful death claims commonly involve the following types of accidents:

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

State law dictates that only certain people are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in California. These people are typically close family members related by marriage, blood, or adoption. In some cases, other individuals may be allowed to claim benefits, but only if they can show that they were financially dependent on the deceased person at the latter’s time of death.

Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, the following family members are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent:

  • Their surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Their children, including adopted and stepchildren
  • Their parents if they were financially dependent on the decedent
  • Anyone else who would be entitled to the deceased’s property under California’s law of intestate succession

Damages the Surviving Family Members Are Entitled To

The surviving family members who file a wrongful death claim can request economic damages as well as non-economic damages, like lost companionship.

Damages that are typically available in a wrongful death claim are:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical and hospital bills related to the deceased’s treatment just before their death
  • Income the deceased individual would reasonably have earned had they lived
  • Loss of love, affection, moral support, companionship, and guidance

A wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the death, so don’t wait to consult with an attorney about a potential claim.

If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one due to another’s reckless or careless act, don’t suffer alone. The Law Office of Robert J. Kaiser can help you navigate the legal processes necessary to help you secure the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact us now for a free, confidential consultation with a Santa Clarita wrongful death attorney.


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