Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

California law and the case details determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, the surviving spouse, surviving children, dependant minors living in the household, parents of the decedent, and a personal representative of the estate may be able to file.  

If you are unsure where to turn after losing a loved one to a preventable accident, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Ellis Law. We focus on obtaining compensation and justice for your loved one through a California wrongful death lawsuit, allowing you and your family the opportunity to grieve and recover from your loss. We will make the process as stress-free as possible for you. If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit or who has legal standing, please call and schedule a free consultation.  

Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California? 

In California, specific parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim, including the following: 

  • The deceased surviving spouse 
  • The deceased person’s surviving domestic partner 
  • The deceased person’s surviving children 

If financially dependent on the deceased and able to prove it, the following can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California: 

  • The surviving alleged spouse and children of the alleged spouse 
  • The surviving stepchildren 
  • The surviving parents of the deceased 

If none of the above are living, a wrongful death claim is available to anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession,” such as the deceased person’s siblings. 

Proving Legal Standing in Wrongful Death Case

A plaintiff seeking to bring a wrongful death claim has the burden of pleading and proving their standing. Wrongful death can arise out of many circumstances, e.g., car accident or medical malpractice. However, no matter the cause, the plaintiff must show an interest that is recognized by the courts. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant more likely than not caused the wrongful death by negligence or intentional harm and that; as a result, surviving family members have suffered monetary losses. 

The complexity of this process highlights the need for a skilled wrongful death claim lawyer. They can help gather evidence, build a solid case to prove legal standing, and seek the compensation you deserve. 

Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California 

California’s statute of limitations requires that wrongful death lawsuits be filed within two years of the date of death. If you fail to file before this deadline, you may lose your right to pursue compensation. While there are some exceptions, it’s always wise to check with your attorney.  

Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit 

The amount of compensation available in a wrongful death claim in California depends on the facts of the individual case. However, the types of damages do not vary. Damages are divided between compensation for monetary losses, known as economic damages, and compensation for personal losses or non-economic damages. 

  1. Compensation for economic damages is meant to reimburse the estate. They have fixed dollar amounts and may include funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses incurred before the death of the loved one, lost income, and income potential of the deceased.  
  1. Compensation for non-economic damages is tailored to the surviving family members and may include the value of household services, loss of love, and companionship. 

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ellis Law  

Ellis Law has decades of experience representing injured Californians and fighting tirelessly to ensure they receive the maximum compensation for their losses. We treat every client with respect and provide unparalleled personal attention. 

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit won’t bring back your loved one. However, it can help provide financial stability during a difficult time, hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions, and bring a sense of closure. Schedule a free consultation with our California injury attorney today. Since we work on a contingency basis, there are no legal fees unless we win compensation.