If a loved one’s death resulted from another’s negligent or wrongful action, you might have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit in California enables surviving members of a decedent’s family to obtain financial compensation for their loss.
Getting financial relief could help you stay in your home, pay your bills, and plan for the future.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death?
A successful wrongful death claim shows that your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. In California, proving negligence requires showing the following elements:
- Duty of care—the responsible party owed a duty of care to the decedent;
- Breach of duty of care—the responsible party breached this duty of care;
- Causation—the breach of duty caused the decedent’s death; and
- Damages—the decedent’s death caused you to suffer damages.
Failing to establish these elements usually means your claim will fail. Don’t risk losing out on financial compensation that can assist your family in these difficult times.
A wrongful death attorney can help you gather evidence to make your claim stronger.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the filing deadline for a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a California wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death.
Failing to file your wrongful death claim within that time usually results in the loss of your right to file a lawsuit.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Before pursuing damages after the death of your loved one, you need to know who is permitted to file a lawsuit. In California, only certain family members can file a lawsuit:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner. The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California.
- Surviving children. The decedent’s surviving children may file a wrongful death. This includes biological children, stepchildren, and adopted children.
- Surviving grandchildren. If the decedent’s children are deceased and are survived by their own children, those grandchildren can file a wrongful death claim.
- Dependent minors. Minors living with the decedent may file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the child must have lived in the decedent’s household for at least six months and received at least half of their financial support from the decedent.
- Parents or guardians. Parents of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim. This typically occurs when the deceased is a minor or unmarried with no children. If the decedent’s parents are deceased, then the decedent’s legal guardian can bring a wrongful death claim.
- Other heirs. When a decedent passes with no surviving children or grandchildren, other heirs entitled to inherit from their estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This can include a surviving spouse or domestic partner.
- Personal representative. A personal representative can file the lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate. When many individuals are eligible to file, a single action by a personal representative may streamline and simplify the process.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine if you’re eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death cases can be very complex. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you comply with the complicated rules and procedures required to bring a successful claim.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.