Can a Fiancé Sue for Wrongful Death?
In California, a person’s fiancé generally does not have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. The primary exception would involve a fiancé that qualifies as a putative spouse. There are some additional hoops a putative spouse must jump through in order to pursue these claims compared to other family members.
If your loved one passed away due to the negligence of another person or company, you may have the right to pursue legal action. Because of the unique challenges that come with a claim from a fiancé, it is in your best interest to seek the guidance of a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California?
There are limits on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. By default, state law allows a deceased person’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or surviving children to pursue a wrongful death action. There are no additional requirements for these individuals to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If none of these parties are able or willing to file a wrongful death case, the right to do so falls to anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” This could expand the right to file suit to parents, siblings, and other family members. Experienced wrongful death lawyers could advise you on the parties that potentially could file a claim.
There are other categories of individuals that have the right to file a wrongful death claim but only under certain circumstances. These include parents, stepchildren, and “putative spouses.” These parties are only entitled to file a wrongful death claim if they can show they were financially dependent on the deceased person at the time they passed away.
What is a putative spouse?
The term “putative spouse” carries a specific definition under state law. A putative spouse is someone that is not legally wed to another individual for whatever reason. However, a person that had a good faith belief that they were married is considered a “putative spouse” even though their marriage did not meet the technical qualifications of marriage.
The most common example where putative spouses exist is when a marriage is either voidable or void. Some examples could include marriages where one party was underage or already married to someone else. A wrongful death attorney could advise you if you qualify as a putative spouse.
The state adopted a putative spouse standard in an effort to protect innocent parties with a good faith belief they were married. A putative spouse could not only bring a wrongful death lawsuit but also be entitled to inherit if there was no will for the decedent.
Discuss a claim with a wrongful death attorney
Barring a finding that you are a putative spouse, you are unlikely to be entitled to pursue a wrongful death on behalf of your fiancé. However, this is ultimately a question best left to a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. Let the team at Ellis Injury Law review your case and advise you of your legal rights.