Accidents of all kinds happen every day. In California, vehicle crashes are the cause of many fatalities and the families of the victims struggle with their loss emotionally and financially.
If such a fatality is the result of another person’s negligence, how do you go about filing a wrongful death lawsuit?
Who can file a claim
Wrongful death claims can arise from a number of circumstances, including vehicle crashes, which are common in California. Those eligible to file a claim for wrongful death are family members of the decedent, such as surviving parents, siblings, spouses, children or grandchildren if the children are also deceased. A domestic partner is also eligible as well as anyone else entitled to the property of the decedent according to intestate succession.
How to proceed
The process will begin with an investigation of the circumstances that resulted in the death. This includes gathering evidence to support your case. The next step is to put the parties responsible on notice that the case is pending.
When to file
The court system maintains a specific time frame in which to file a wrongful death claim. For a death resulting from negligence or a wrongful act, the statute of limitations is two years. For example, if the cause is a vehicle accident, you have two years from the time the accident occurred. However, if, say, the victim was in a coma for a year and then died, the two years begins with the date of death. If a government or public entity was responsible, as in a crash resulting from poor road conditions, you will only have six months in which to file a claim. Other exceptions also exist under California law which may or may not affect your wish to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.