A wrongful death claim arises under California law when a person dies because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. A wrongful death is particularly devastating because it is both unexpected and preventable.

The survivors of the victim may file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the wrongdoer. Note that a wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceedings that might be brought against the party allegedly responsible for the death. Plus the family does not have to wait for a criminal trial to conclude before filing their wrongful death claim.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Not everyone is able to file a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of a loved one. Instead, California law permits the following parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner;
  • The decedent’s surviving children or grandchildren if the children are also deceased; and
  • If there is no surviving person in the decedent’s direct line of descent, anyone who would be entitled to the decedent’s property according to intestate succession, such as parents and siblings.

(Intestate succession is a way of distributing property if a person dies without leaving behind a will.)

Certain people who were financially dependent on the decedent may also file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The “putative spouse.” This means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who believed that the marriage was valid;
  • The children of the putative spouse;
  • The decedent’s stepchildren;
  • The decedent’s parents and
  • A minor who lived with the decedent for at least six months at the time of death and depended on the decedent for more than half of his or her support.

What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Suit?

The specific amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the facts of the particular case. But damages that courts generally award include:

  • Losses associated with the death, like medical and funeral expenses;
  • Lost income, including the income that the decedent would have earned in the future had she or he lived; and
  • Noneconomic damages, like loss of love and support.

Contact Us Today for Assistance

There is no reason that you should have to suffer any more in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one. Instead, it is in your best interest to reach out to a dedicated attorney for help. A lawyer can assist you in filing a wrongful death lawsuit to ensure you are able to recover the compensation that you deserve for your losses

Contact our office in Long Beach, California, for a free consultation if your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. Our personal injury attorneys will help you file a wrongful death claim and help recover both economic and noneconomic damage

Author Photo

Michael Beliz

Michael A. Beliz, Esq., established The Beliz Law Firm in the spring of 2011.  Michael has been a practicing attorney since 2006 and worked for two of the most prominent plaintiff’s personal injury law firms in Southern California.  He has worked on and handled hundreds of cases as an attorney in all types of personal injury cases, including vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents and dog bites, and successfully recovered millions of dollars for his clients.

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