Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2016 | Wrongful Death |

Child at a tombstone

The emotional hardship of a wrongful death can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, in addition to the emotional toll a death can take, a death (especially one that is premature) usually results in financial losses for surviving family members. These financial losses may stem from missing income and a loss of medical and retirement benefits. In the case of a wrongful death, one caused by the reckless or negligent actions of another, family members may be due compensation for these losses. The wrongful death attorneys at Sumner Law discuss who can file a wrongful death suit. Our Walnut Creek, CA attorneys can review your case and determine if you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil hearing that allows surviving family members to seek compensation when a loved one has died as the direct result of the reckless or negligent actions of another person or entity. It is important to know that a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed by just anybody. There are specific guidelines regarding who can file a wrongful death suit. These guidelines vary slightly by each state.

In the state of California, a wrongful death suit may be filed by:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • The domestic partner of the deceased
  • The children of the deceased

In the event that the deceased does not have a surviving spouse or child, the person who is legally entitled to the person’s estate may file a wrongful death suit. This may include the deceased’s parents or siblings.

In some cases, other people may qualify to file a wrongful death suit. Additional individuals who may be able to seek compensation in a wrongful death suit include the following:

  • A putative spouse (one who enters a marriage in good faith, but whose marriage is not valid due to legal issues, such as a preexisting marriage)
  • Stepchildren

These cases are more difficult and not as common. For one of these cases to be successful, the putative spouse or stepchildren must be able to show that they were financially dependent on the deceased.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit

The damages in a wrongful death suit will vary based on the specifics of the case. Some suits may compensate surviving family members for losses to the estate as well as their personal losses. Below are some of the most common damages to be considered in a wrongful death suit:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses that may have been incurred prior to death
  • Loss of anticipated income
  • Loss of financial support
  • The value of household services
  • Loss of love and emotional support

Our attorneys will carefully consider the details of each case to ensure our clients are compensated to the maximum extent of the law.

Contact Us

If you have lost the love, companionship, and financial support of a loved one due to the reckless or negligent actions of another, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit. Contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss the details of your case with one of our wrongful death attorneys.