How a Wrongful Death Case Works in California

Cartwright - July 3, 2018 - Blog, Wrongful Death
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If you have experienced the death of a loved in California as a result of an accident or the fault of another party, it’s important to familiarize yourself with our state’s wrongful death laws. For example, there are a number of factors that determine who can file this type of lawsuit and what can be claimed as damages. This type of information can help you make an informed decision with regards to any potential legal decisions you make surrounding your loved one’s death.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?

In the state of California, a wrongful death is classified as the death of a person that comes about due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. It can be either a person or an entity that leads to wrongful death. It’s important to know that a wrongful death claim is filed by the victim’s survivors, such as a spouse, children or parents. A designated trustee of the individual’s estate can also bring about a lawsuit. In such a claim, compensation is awarded to the survivors.

These cases differ from homicide cases because they are brought about by the victim’s survivors instead of by the state. Additionally, wrongful death cases are heard in civil court instead of criminal court. At the same time, the surviving family members of a homicide victim could file a wrongful death suit as well.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Generally, there are certain people who can file a wrongful death claim in the state of California. The following can file:

  • The descendant’s spouse
  • The descendant’s domestic partner
  • The descendant’s children

If the individual was not married or in a domestic partnership and had no children, other people can bring about a lawsuit. This includes anyone who would legally be entitled to the person’s property, such as their parents, siblings or a person who was dependent on the decedent.

What Kind of Damages Can be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Suit?

There are a number of damages that can be claimed, according to the California wrongful death law. The actual amount of compensation a person can claim depends on the specific details surrounding the case. However, in general, damages are meant to compensate the descendant’s survivors for their loss as it is a tragic and life-altering situation when a loved one passes away. Those damages often include the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical and hospital bills
  • Lost income and potential wages the decedent would have earned had they lived
  • Value of household services
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of love, companionship, moral support and guidance

Length of Time to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Just as with personal injury cases, California has a set period of time in which a wrongful death claim can be filed. This is also known as the statute of limitations. In California, there is a limit of two years from the date of the individual’s death to file a wrongful death claim. If the case isn’t filed within that time frame, the courts will not hear the case and the decedent’s family will not be able to recover damages.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to negligence or a wrongful act, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Contact The Cartwright Law Firm today and schedule a free case review. We will listen to the details of your case and help create a legal plan of action to help get your family the best possible outcome for your tragic situation.

For more information on our San Francisco Wrongful Death Attorney, please visit our site. You can also call us at 415-433-0444.

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Founder and Managing Partner

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