Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
If a person’s death results from the negligence of another, the individua or entity l who caused the persons wrongful death may be held legally responsible for financial and emotional losses and expenses. Surviving family members or persons financially dependent on the decedent may collect compensation after a loved one’s wrongful death. To recover damages, the persons bringing the wrongful death claim must prove that another individual or entity is legally responsible for the death and that the persons or Estate making the claim are permitted to make the claim as set forth in the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death in California?
In California, a person’s death is considered wrongful if it resulted from another individual’s intentional act or negligence.
Wrongful death cases arise out of various circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- Car accidents,
- Medical malpractice, and
- Criminal actions.
Who Can Bring a Claim?
Surviving family members of a person whose death was caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness may bring a wrongful death claim. California law recognizes various individuals who may have a right to legal action, depending on the circumstances.
These individuals include the decedent’s surviving:
- Domestic partner,
- Children, or
- Grandchildren (if the decedent’s children are deceased).
If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, domestic partner, child, or grandchild, the persons who could bring a claim are those who would be entitled to receive part of the decedent’s estate per state laws. This can include the decedent’s parents or legal guardians (if the decedent’s parents have passed away).
Also eligible to bring a wrongful death claim are individuals who were financially dependent on the decedent, including:
- A putative spouse (a person who mistakenly believed they were still lawfully married to the decedent),
- The children of a putative spouse,
- The decedent’s stepchildren, or
- The decedent’s parents or legal guardians.
A minor who lived with the decedent for 6 months or more before the individual’s passing may also file a wrongful death claim. The minor must have relied on the decedent for at least ½ of their support.
What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered?
Those entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim can seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages arising from the incident.
These include expenses and losses such as:
- Burial and funeral expenses,
- Lost financial support the decedent would have provided,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Loss of gifts or benefits the decedent could have been expected to provide.
To recover damages, the surviving family member or individual bringing the claim must prove that their loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act. They must also show that they suffered damages because of their loved one’s death.
California has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. If the person bringing the claim does not meet the deadline, the matter could be dismissed, and they would not be entitled to compensation.
Schedule a Consultation with Barry Regar APLC
Filing a wrongful death claim can be challenging. The legal processes are complex, and it can be hard to focus on the nuances of the case after losing a loved one. For help with your case in Palm Springs, retain the services of a personal injury attorney. They can provide the support and guidance you need.
If you are looking for legal representation, please contact us at (760) 440-5643.