When a person’s or entity’s negligence results in the death of another human being, the victim’s surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim. If successful, the surviving family members can recover compensation for their loss. If you recently lost a loved one in California, you may wonder if you can file a wrongful death claim and, if so, what damages you stand to recover. FindLaw provides a brief overview of California wrongful death law.

You may file a wrongful death claim if you are the surviving spouse, child or domestic partner of the deceased. You may also file if the deceased does not have a surviving spouse, partner or children and if you are next in line per California’s intestate succession laws.

California law also allows “putative” spouses, children of putative spouses, parents and stepchildren to file wrongful death claims. “Putative” spouses are individuals who are part of a void or voidable marriage but who believe, in good faith, that the marriage is valid. If you are a minor who lived with the decedent for 180 days prior to his or her death, and if you relied on the deceased for a majority of your financial support, you may also file a wrongful death claim.

If your wrongful death suit is successful, you may recover compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. You may recover compensation for medical expenses the decedent accrued after the accident and prior to his or her death. The courts may also award damages for funeral and burial expenses, money the deceased would have earned had he or she lived and compensation for loss of financial support. You may also recover compensation for the loss of companionship, affection and parental guidance.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.