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Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Who Can File a Claim?

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Who Can File a Claim?

Posted By The Dunnion Law Firm || 3-Jan-2018

Every state has different laws regarding personal injury, wrongful death, and civil suits. For the most part, these laws relate to who can file a case and how it proceeds, but in some cases, they also relate to the kinds of damages that can be collected. That’s one reason why it’s so important to seek proper representation when you have such a case.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or deliberate acts, you can hold them financially responsible for your losses, and collect compensation. Discover the laws and statutes regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California, and when a wrongful death attorney is essential to your case.

Wrongful Death in California

The first thing to understand about a wrongful death case is that it has nothing to do with criminal charges. If the District Attorney in your area files a criminal case against the person responsible for the death of your loved one, that case will proceed in a separate and distinct fashion from the wrongful death civil case you file. One has no bearing on the other.

Likewise, in a wrongful death case, there are no criminal penalties levied. Losing a wrongful death case does not mean that the defendant will go to prison. It merely holds them responsible in a financial sense and awards monetary compensation and damages to the person pursuing the case.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

When you file a wrongful death case, there are a number of different kinds of benefits to which you may be entitled. These damages can be divided up between those that compensate the estate or whether they compensate family members for personal loss.

Those losses that are normally awarded to compensate the estate include burial and funerary expenses, any medical expenses accumulated between the event that caused the death, up to the death, and any lost income including potential earnings in the future.

Damages that are awarded to survivors directly can include the value of any household services by the deceased, the loss of potential financial support they would have offered, and damages related to the loss of companionship, guidance, community, love, and affection.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The question of who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California comes down to who was actually wronged by the death. In general, there are three parties who can file such a claim—the surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children of the deceased. If no one exists in any of these roles, anyone who could be entitled to inherit property can file such a case. This includes those financially dependent on the spouse such as their putative spouse and their children, the decedent’s stepchildren, and their parents.

Working with a Wrongful Death Attorney

Since these cases can get very complex and must be properly filed within two years of the decedent’s passing, it’s important to work with a qualified California wrongful death attorney for the best chance at significant compensation. If you’re in San Jose or Monterey, contact the Dunnion Law Firm to consult about your case at no cost today.