A wrongful death claim arises when a person dies due to the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else. This is true in California as it is in most states. The at-fault party is held civilly liable and, in a successful wrongful death claim, will be ordered to financially compensate survivors of the decedent. The financial compensation is referred to as “damages” and it is intended to compensate those who have been harmed due to the untimely death of their loved one due to the actions of the at-fault party. Here is more that you should know about wrongful death claims in California.
California Wrongful Death Claims
To begin, it should be emphasized that only certain people are permitted to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California civil courts. The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit as do the surviving children of the decedent and grandchildren of any deceased child of the decedent, but that’s it. If, however, there is no direct, surviving descendent of the decedent, then anyone who would be entitled to the decedent’s property pursuant to the state’s intestacy laws may bring the wrongful death action. Under the state’s laws of intestate succession, this means that the decedent’s parents or siblings would be permitted to file the lawsuit.
California also provides others in addition to the above potential claimants to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in certain, specific circumstances. If these individuals can show that they were financially dependent upon the decedent, then they are authorized to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in the state:
- The putative spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased’s putative spouse
- Stepchildren of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- The legal guardians of the deceased if there are no surviving parents
There are a variety of damage types that can be awarded to compensate those impacted most by the decedent’s untimely passing. Damages in a wrongful death action can be divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those more easily quantifiable damages and can include things such as the financial support the decedent would have been able to contribute to his family had he lived. It can also include the loss of gifts and other benefits the survivors would have gotten via the decedent. Economic damages will also include things like funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages are much more elusive to put a number on, but they are just as real as economic damages. Non-economic damages in a wrongful death action may include:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of comfort and care
- Loss of moral support
- Loss of affection
Personal Injury Attorney
Have you lost a loved one due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another? The law entitles you to be compensated for this profound loss. While nothing can bring back your loved one, compensation can provide critical financial support in the face of such a devastating loss. The team at BoyesLegal, APC are here for you. Contact us today.