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Who can file a wrongful death action in California?

  • Apr 12 2017

Losing a loved one is a very emotional experience. If someone passes away due to the negligence of another, it doesn’t make it easier. However, you might be able to recover damages for your loss, with the assistance of a wrongful death attorney.

What Are Some Examples Of Wrongful Death?

  1. Intentional acts, such as murder or manslaughter. California law does say that a killing in self-defense or other justifiable homicide is not an example of wrongful death.
  1. Negligent driving, which might include running a red light, driving too fast or driving while distracted.
  1. Medical malpractice, which could include an unsafe combination of medication, surgeon error, or the failure by a medical professional to diagnose a condition.
  1. Unsafe products, including tainted food, or machinery that was poorly designed.
  1. Work-related deaths, especially if a third party caused the death. Some work related deaths are decided under stipulations in workers’ compensation laws. A personal injury lawyer will help you decide what types of laws pertain to your situation if someone you love was killed in a work-related accident.

An Overview Of Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims can arise out of a variety of circumstances. They are civil lawsuits, in contrast to a criminal case for homicide, where the case is brought by the state.

Most civil claims have a benchmark of liability that requires proof based on a ‘preponderance of evidence’, as opposed to guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’

In order to substantiate a wrongful death claim, one must be able to show that

  1. Someone died
  2. The death was caused by the negligence of another or someone else’s intent to cause harm
  3. The surviving members of the family are financially harmed due to the death
  4. Someone has been appointed as a personal representative for the estate

Who Can File A Claim?

The laws vary by state about who can sue for wrongful death, but California law stipulates that in general, people who would be entitled to inherit if there was no will, or the personal representative of an estate would usually be able to file a claim.

This would include the spouse of the deceased, the children of the deceased, or the parents of the deceased if they relied on the person who died for support. A wrongful death lawyer will be able to help you determine if you are eligible to file a claim.

What Type Of Compensation Is Available?

California does not place a limit on the awards relating to wrongful death. A jury is usually tasked with determining the amount of compensation that results from a wrongful death case. You are entitled to seek compensation for economic damages including funeral costs, or even noneconomic damages like the loss of the deceased’s companionship or comfort.

If you have lost a loved one due to a wrongful death circumstance, you have rights. At J&Y, we have the experience and knowledge that are essential to bringing successful wrongful death claims. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Posted in: Wrongful Death