Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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If you have experienced the wrongful death of a loved one, it is a trying and emotional experience. You may also be facing financial difficulties due to the death. Those who have been most greatly impacted by a loved one’s wrongful death can pursue a claim against the responsible party in California. If another person’s negligence caused the death of your loved one, you should enlist the help of a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. 

Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

State laws indicate who can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in California. California Code of Civil Procedures 377.60 indicates these very specific family members of the deceased, or those serving as the deceased personal representatives, can file a wrongful death lawsuit, including the following: 

  • The spouse or domestic partner 
  • Children 
  • Grandchildren if the decedent’s children are deceased
  • Other minor children (stepchildren) dependent on the decedent for at least 50% of their financial support 
  • Anyone who would be entitled to the decedent’s property under the state intestate succession laws 

Based on California law, the statute of limitations for pursuing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the individual’s death (except in circumstances of a wrongful death caused by a health care provider such as a doctor or hospital, which has a one year statute of limitations). You should speak with a wrongful death attorney about the possibility of pursuing a claim as quickly as possible. 

What Constitutes a California Wrongful Death Claim?

There are many situations that could arise from someone’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongful actions. You will need to prove that the defendant is responsible for what happened to the deceased but in some situations a lawsuit may succeed without proving the defendant’s wrongdoing if there is an applicable strict liability statute. 

Some more common causes for wrongful death claims include: 

  • Automobile accidents 
  • Medical malpractice and/or negligence 
  • Drowning 
  • Assault and battery 
  • Slip and fall accidents 
  • Defective products 
  • Toxic tort
  • Dog bites 

If you believe that someone was at fault for the death of your loved one, you should speak with a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney. If you believe it was because of medical malpractice or negligence, you should similarly consult with a Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer. 

What Damages Can You Recover in a California Wrongful Death Claim?

California law allows the next of kin of the deceased to recover compensation for the losses that they suffered because of their loved one’s death. These losses include economic damages, such as funeral and burial costs, medical bills, and the loss of income. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium. 

There are differences between a wrongful death claim and a survival claim. A survival claim seeks to recover damages on the decedent’s behalf. A survival action is sometimes included in a wrongful death case to recover pain and suffering and other losses suffered by the decedent if they had survived the injury for some amount of time before they died. A survival action brought outside a wrongful death claim could bring unrelated claims that the loved one was entitled to recover compensation for before his or her death. 

Contact a California Wrongful Death Lawyer 

If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, including medical malpractice, you should enlist the help of an experienced California wrongful death and/or medical malpractice lawyer. The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., routinely handles medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. Call for a free case review today

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