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Who is Eligible to Claim Wrongful Death in California?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

When a loved one dies because of the negligence or criminal act of another person, the law recognizes the family’s right to recover for that loss. This is known as a “wrongful death” claim. These claims can arise out of various situations, such as medical malpractice or a car accident where the driver acted negligently. A wrongful death action has the same elements as a negligence claim, but is brought on behalf of the victim by another party. Not everyone who has a relationship with the deceased person can sue for wrongful death. Read on to learn about who can bring a wrongful death claim in California.

Who Can Sue?

Every state has its own rules regarding who can sue for wrongful death. In general, the closer the familial relationship, the more likely you are to be eligible to recover. In all states, a surviving spouse is permitted to bring a wrongful death claim. Children can sue for wrongful death on behalf of their parents. For other familial relationships, state laws differ.

California Law

In addition to the parties mentioned above, in California, a surviving domestic partner can recover for wrongful death. If the deceased has no surviving relative (like a child or spouse), a lawsuit can be initiated by someone who would be entitled to assets through the laws of intestate succession. This can include parents, siblings, or other family members.

California, along with several other states, has a provision to protect anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased person. If anyone can show financial reliance on the deceased relative, they too have a cause of action. Also, a “putative spouse” (the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage), children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, and parents of an adult who is deceased can initiate a wrongful death claim.

Which Damages Are Recoverable?

Damages are intended to compensate for two types of losses: losses attributable to the estate and losses suffered by the family members. Estate losses include funeral expenses, medical bills connected to the cause of death, and lost future income. Personal losses that the family can recover relate to the deceased individual, such as the value of services offered by the deceased, and loss of love, guidance and companionship.

It is important to note that only one wrongful death suit is permissible under the law. All family members seeking compensation must be named as plaintiffs in the wrongful death action.

If you or a member of your family was injured through the negligent conduct of someone else, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.

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