What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Like all fifty states, California has a law or statute that applies to wrongful death (§ 377.60 of the Code of Civil Procedure). In California, surviving loved ones may recover damages when a family member dies because of another person’s wrongful negligent, reckless, or intentional act.

Wrongful acts that may underlie a claim for wrongful death include, but are not limited to, the following acts:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • “Slip-and-fall” accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Elder abuse or neglect
  • Assault and battery

In most cases, a wrongful death action must be brought within two years of injury or death.

All claimants with potential claims must join in a single wrongful death action. California law requires that there may only be one lawsuit against a defendant. The following persons may file a wrongful death action in California:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse,
  • The decedent’s domestic partner,
  • The decedent’s children, and
  • issue of deceased children of the decedent,

If there is no surviving issue of the decedent, those persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession may file a wrongful death action. If this would entitle the parents of the decedent to bring a wrongful death action, and the parents are deceased, then any legal guardians of the decedent may bring an action as if they were the decedent’s parents.

Certain persons, if they were dependent on the decedent, may bring a wrongful death action. These include the putative spouse of the decedent, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, parents, or the legal guardians of the decedent if the parents are deceased. A putative spouse is a surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is legally found to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid.

Damages in a wrongful death case are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that are easily ascertainable such as burial and funeral expenses, as well as income or support the deceased would have provided through employment. Non-economic damages are harder to measure and include compensation for the loss of consortium or companionship.

If you have suffered an injury in any type of accident, and another party is responsible for this harm, you have a right to compensatory damages for your losses. The personal injury attorneys at Moss Bollinger can help you assert your valuable right to compensation. Moss Bollinger is dedicated to protecting and asserting the rights of our clients. Call 866-942-7974 today for a free consultation or contact us online.

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