The death of a family member can be devastating. Although no amount of compensation can return to you what you have lost, it is important to know that if a loved one death was caused by someone else, you may be in a position to file a civil lawsuit against the liable party.
Per California law, death is deemed to be wrongful when it is caused by another person’s negligent, reckless or otherwise wrongful actions. While a loved one’s death is bound to impact everyone, California laws restrict who can file a claim. These are the individuals who can sue for wrongful death in California in addition to the personal representative of the deceased’s estate:
The victim’s surviving spouse
If you are the decedent’s surviving spouse, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim in California. A domestic partner or a putative spouse may also file this claim, especially if they were financially dependent on the deceased.
The victim’s surviving children
The decedent’s surviving children (biological and adopted) too can file a wrongful death claim. The same holds for stepchildren as long as they can prove financial dependence on the decedent at the time of death.
The decedent’s parents
If the wrongful death victim is a minor, then the parents may sue for wrongful death. Likewise, if the defendant was an adult with no spouse or children of their own, then the surviving parents may bring the claim.
Safeguarding your interests
A loved one’s preventable death can turn your world upside down, especially if you were financially dependent on them. Learning more about California negligence laws can help you protect your rights and interests while pursuing justice on behalf of the departed.