What Constitutes a Wrongful Death in California?

Cartwright - October 15, 2018 - Wrongful Death
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Wrongful death occurs when someone’s negligent or intentional acts result in the death of another person. When a situation occurs where someone dies due to the negligent, reckless or intentional malicious act of another, the surviving family members of the deceased have a right to pursue legal action to receive compensation for that terrible loss. Generally, in such a lawsuit, a person who caused another’s death may be acquitted in a criminal case involving murder or manslaughter, but they can still be found liable for the death in a wrongful death suit. In the state of California, there are certain laws pertaining to wrongful death.

Wrongful Death Claims

There are a number of situations from which a wrongful death suit can arise, such as criminal activity, medical malpractice or exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. However, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death of their loved one, the plaintiff must prove that certain elements were in place. They include the following:

  • A person died
  • The death was caused by the negligence of another person or due to an intentional act meant to cause harm
  • The decedent’s surviving family members are suffering financially because of the death
  • A personal representative for the deceased person’s estate has been chosen


Wrongful Death Laws in California

There is a statute of limitations in California for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This is the amount of time during which a person can file a claim to recover compensation for the loss of their loved one. In California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of an individual’s death. If a lawsuit is not filed within that time, the court will not hear the case and the individual will not be able to recover compensation.

Generally, a deceased person’s spouse, domestic partner, children or grandchildren, if the decedent’s children are also deceased, can file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased person had stepchildren who depended on them for financial support, their parent or guardian would be able to sue for wrongful death as well.

Damages Recoverable for a Wrongful Death

In a wrongful death claim, there are certain damages that the decedent’s loved ones can receive. These damages are meant to compensate them for what they are no longer able to receive had the individual lived. Compensatory damages can include both economic and non-economic losses and include the following:

  • Financial support for the family
  • Loss of benefits heirs would have received
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Value of household services the individual would have provided
  • Loss of affection
  • Loss of moral support
  • Loss of protection
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of training and guidance
  • Loss of sexual relations

California’s wrongful death laws do not have a set standard for determining the amount of non-economic damages. In general, a jury can award whatever amount it deems reasonable to a family.

If you are in California and have experienced a tragic loss of a loved one due to another person’s negligence or intentional act, call Robert E Cartwright to discuss your case. While nothing can bring back your loved one, Robert E Cartwright and his colleagues will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.

For more information on our Vacaville Wrongful Death Lawyer, please visit our site.

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