Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California

A wrongful death claim arises when someone dies due to the negligence of another person or entity. Survivors, typically relatives or spouses, may be able to initiate a lawsuit to recover damages. A wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for the survivor’s loss resulting from the death of the loved one, i.e., lost wages, loss of companionship, or medical or funeral expenses. A wrongful death claim can involve almost any type of accident resulting in death, including product liability, medical malpractice, auto accidents, or on-the-job injuries. California allows a time limit of two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The California Wrongful Death Statute specifies those who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Specifically, the following parties may bring a wrongful death lawsuit – the surviving spouse or domestic partner, any surviving children, or if there is no surviving descendant or partner, then a wrongful death suit may be initiated by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession” (i.e., parents, or siblings of the deceased). Also, if the following parties can demonstrate financial dependence on the deceased, they are also entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California:

  • The deceased person’s common law spouse and their children
  • Any stepchildren of the deceased
  • The parents of the deceased

Damages Available for Recovery

In a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are typically apportioned between compensating the estate for losses associated with the death of the deceased and the surviving family members for their losses suffered. Damages that are typically allocated to the estate include funeral/burial costs, medical expenses for the deceased’s final injury, and any lost income (including any income the deceased person would have been reasonably expected to earn in their future). Damages typically allocated to the surviving family include the loss of financial support, value of household services, loss of love, community, guidance, and affection.

Contact Leslie Legal Group

It is the legal responsibility of every single company and individual to ensure the safety of their employees or clients. A breach of this responsibility can occur when the same companies or individuals act in a negligent or reckless manner. If your loved one suffered a severe injury or illness resulting in their untimely death, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. The Leslie Legal Group is committed to excellence in the representation of every single client. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.