Understanding California’s Wrongful Death Statute

understanding california wrongful death statute

According to California’s wrongful death statute, wrongful death is caused by the legal fault of another person or entity. A wrongful death may occur due to wrongful acts of negligence or intentional acts, including crimes.

The following people may file a wrongful death lawsuit in California civil court:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • The deceased person’s surviving children
  • The grandchildren of any deceased child of the deceased person

If the following individuals can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased, they may also file a wrongful death claim:

  • The deceased person’s parents
  • The deceased person’s stepchildren
  • The deceased person’s legal guardians, if his or her parents are deceased
  • The deceased’s putative spouse, or an individual who had the good faith but mistaken belief that he or she and the deceased were legally married

Additional rules apply if no surviving person can file a lawsuit in the deceased’s line of descent. In these situations, any person entitled to inherit the deceased’s property may file a claim.

A Survival Action Lawsuit

In California, there are multiple forms of claims that can be made on behalf of someone who passed away due to wrongful death, depending on the timing of said death. Surviving family members have the ability to make a wrongful death claim on the deceased behalf.

A survival action covers damages that the deceased suffered before death that would have been recoverable in a personal injury claim had they survived. When death is not instantaneous and requires medical attention, extended care, and transportation, among other expenses, the victim’s estate or family may file a claim to recover damages endured between the time of the accident and their death.

The key difference between a survival action and a wrongful death claim is that a survival action does not compensate family members for their losses in the event of their relative’s death. Rather, the deceased person’s family members, estate, or representative named in their trust or will can claim losses that the decedent suffered before death. In some cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may also be filed following the individual’s death and may be combined with a survival action.

Working with highly experienced wrongful death attorneys is crucial to navigating the nuances of these types of claims. The Bakersfield wrongful death attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates will help ensure all family members involved are protected with maximum compensation.

Recoverable Damages In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In California, compensation for wrongful death cases is categorized into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover tangible losses like financial support from the deceased, loss of expected gifts or benefits, funeral and burial expenses, and the value of household services the deceased would have provided.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, include intangible losses such as the loss of:

  • Moral support
  • Love
  • Guidance
  • Care
  • Comfort

The value of these damages can vary significantly based on the specifics of your loved one’s case, often reaching substantial amounts. To accurately estimate the potential settlement, it is important to work with a Bakersfield wrongful death lawyer who can assess these damages and determine what your family is entitled to claim.

Work With Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers

Too many individuals lose their lives because of the negligent behavior of another. The experienced wrongful death lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates understand the emotional pain and turmoil this causes the victim’s families. Our dedicated team is here to provide the support and legal expertise needed to pursue justice and secure the compensation you deserve.

If you have lost a loved one due to negligence, contact Rodriguez & Associates. Our team is here to help you through this challenging process with compassion and understanding.