A couple speaking to a lawyer about their wrongful death claim.

Can a Family Member Sue for Wrongful Death?

If the negligence or wrongdoing of an individual or party causes the death of an individual, the party responsible for causing the death might be held liable for civil damages under California’s wrongful death laws. The law provides a process for a person’s loved ones to seek compensation for their loss and the damages caused by the loss of a family member. A California wrongful death attorney can guide a family through the process of filing a wrongful death claim seeking justice for the untimely death of their loved one.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A variety of circumstances and accidents can result in a wrongful death claim. It involves the death of a person caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person or party. Many incidents can give rise to a wrongful death claim, including, but not limited to:

Almost any incident that results in the untimely death of an individual can result in a wrongful death claim.

The state cannot undo the death of a family member. However, it can require a party who caused the death to compensate the family for economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages in a wrongful death action may include funeral expenses, loss of financial support, the value of household services, and loss of benefits and gifts. Non-economic damages compensate family members from the loss of support, love, guidance, protection, affection, and companionship because of the death of the family member.

Can Family Members Sue for Wrongful Death?

The individuals who can sue for wrongful death in California are specified in the Wrongful Death Statute. The statute states that a wrongful death claim may be asserted by:

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children
  • Grandchildren, if their parents are deceased
  • Other dependent children who received at least 50 percent of their financial support from the deceased person
  • If there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, other individuals who would be entitled to inherit from the decedent’s estate under California’s intestate laws

Determining who can file a wrongful death lawsuit can be a complicated issue in some cases. A wrongful death lawyer can evaluate the case to determine the party or parties who have a valid legal claim under the state’s wrongful death laws.

Is There a Deadline for Filing Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California?

Yes, there is a deadline for filing lawsuits related to wrongful death. In most cases, family members have just two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit seeking damages for wrongful death. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.

Exceptions usually shorten the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as in the case of medical malpractice and claims involving government entities. However, if the plaintiff is a minor or if the family members could not reasonably discover the death was related to a specific act, the statement of limitations can be extended. 

It is always best to consult a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to avoid a statute of limitations problem.

Discuss Your Case with a California Wrongful Death Attorney

If you lost a loved one because of another party’s wrongdoing, contact our California wrongful death attorney now to discuss your case. We can help you seek justice for your family and your loved one.