Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

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When a beloved companion or family member passes away due to another party’s negligence, it may be considered wrongful death. One of the most common causes of wrongful death is auto accidents. We understand the tragedy of losing a loved one and the emotional and financial stress it can cause. For assistance filing a wrongful death claim and receiving the compensation that your family is entitled to, work with a San Mateo County, California motor vehicle accident lawyer.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death relates to the death of a person that was caused by another party’s action or inaction. Legal action can be taken against a liable party if their negligence, recklessness, or purposeful act causes someone else to lose their life. Some examples of situations that can be considered wrongful deaths include death caused by any of the following.

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective product
  • Elder abuse or neglect
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Assault
  • Manslaughter

If any of the above caused the death of your loved one the responsible party may be able to be brought to justice. However, only certain people are eligible to file a wrongful death claim under California law.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in CA?

Many states require that the executor of the will or a personal representative of the deceased file a wrongful death claim, and no one else is allowed to begin the legal process. However, California state law allows certain family members to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party. The following individuals are entitled to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their departed loved one.

  • A surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Surviving children
  • Surviving grandchildren, if there are no surviving children of the deceased
  • Anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased, such as stepchildren
  • Anyone who would be entitled to inherit the property of the deceased via CA succession laws

If you fall into one or more of the above categories you may be legally allowed to file a wrongful death claim.

What Damages Can Be Received From the Lawsuit?

Depending on the situation, both economic and non-economic damages can be collected from a claim or lawsuit. Family can be compensated for the following by filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.

Economic damages:

  • Financial support that would have been contributed to the family by the deceased
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • The loss of gifts or benefits that the family would have received
  • The financial value of household services that the deceased would have provided

Non-economic damages:

  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of care, assistance, and protection
  • The surviving spouse’s loss of intimacy
  • Loss of guidance and moral support

Losing a loved one can be emotionally traumatizing but it can also have serious detrimental effects on the financial stability of a family. If the family relied on income made by the departed, they could begin to struggle and go into debt over the funeral, housing, food, and everyday expenses. Compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit aims to ease the financial and emotional burden of a family from losing their beloved.

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