Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?

While any loss of life is regrettable, unnecessary deaths brought about by the carelessness of another party can be particularly devastating. In the event that a person should pass away at the hands of a negligent party, a “wrongful death” claim can be brought by the decedent’s survivors against those responsible in pursuit of monetary compensation for a variety of damages, including funeral expenses, lost future income, the decedent’s final medical bills, emotional distress, and others.

Under California law, only certain people are granted the legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Parties who may sue for wrongful death include:

  1. The decedent’s surviving spouse
  2. The decedent’s domestic partner
  3. The decedent’s surviving children, adopted or biological
  4. The decedent’s financially dependent “putative spouse”
  5. The decedent’s financially dependent stepchildren
  6. The decedent’s financially dependent parents

In the event that there are no surviving persons in the decedent’s line of descent, a wrongful death claim may be filed by any individual who would have been entitled to the decedent’s estate under “intestate succession” laws, or the state’s hierarchy of distributing property to a person’s closest living relatives in the event that they should pass away without a will.

What Happens if Multiple Parties Have Grounds to Sue?

Given the above allowances, it is common for instances to arise in which several different combinations of parties all have grounds to sue for wrongful death, such as the deceased person’s spouse or domestic partner and children. Under the law, every party who has a legitimate claim must be named in the wrongful death suit either as a plaintiff or involuntary defendant in order to be eligible to receive compensation. Likewise, wrongful death claims in California must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. If the case is not filed within this timeframe, the family will likely lose their right to pursue legal action.

If you have lost a loved one under preventable circumstances, it is imperative you retain the services of a compassionate and knowledgeable Orange County wrongful death lawyer from Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. to ensure your rights are protected. With more than $50 million recovered on behalf of past clients, we can provide the steadfast support your family needs and help you move forward during this difficult time. To find out more about how our team of advocates can assist you, schedule a complimentary case review or call our office at (888) 480-3883 today.

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