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Who Can File for Wrongful Death in California?

Wrongful death claims are civil cases that arise out of fatal accidents – accidents that are caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person or entity. Wrongful death cases are brought before the court by the survivors of the victim (or by a representative of the victim’s estate) directly, and the remedies awarded are based solely on monetary damages. Even if the at-fault party is being charged for the same death in a criminal case, the decedent’s family can still file a wrongful death claim against that person. If you’ve lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence, an experienced Redding, California, wrongful death attorney can help.

Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims are invariably the most tragic and painful civil cases. When someone else’s negligence leads directly to the outright loss of your beloved family member, it can be a loss that’s almost too difficult to bear. Generally, if your loved one dies in an accident that he or she could have brought a personal injury claim regarding (had he or she not died as a result of the accident), you can file a wrongful death claim in that person’s stead. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, which refers to the amount of time you have to file such a claim, is two years in the State of California. This means that you have two years from the time of your loved one’s death – not from the time of the accident that caused his or her death – to bring your claim. If you fail to file within this timeframe, you will almost certainly lose the right to do so.

Who Files the Claim?

The State of California is quite clear about who is allowed to file a wrongful death claim, and the specifics include:

  • The surviving spouse of the decedent
  • The surviving domestic partner of the decedent
  • The surviving children of the decedent
  • If the decedent has no surviving relatives in his or her line of descent, the claim can be filed by anyone who would be entitled to the decedent’s property according to the state’s intestate succession laws, which can include the decedent’s parents or siblings.

Finally, if any of the following can show that they were financially dependent upon the deceased at the time of his or her death, they are also eligible to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The decedent’s putative spouse and the children of the decedent’s putative spouse (a putative spouse is someone who is generally considered to be a person’s husband or wife).
  • The decedent’s stepchildren
  • The decedent’s parents

If any of these apply to your situation, you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim regarding the loss of your loved one.

Your Damages

The damages associated with wrongful death cases are generally divided into those damages related to the death of the victim and those damages related to the personal losses of the victim’s family members. Those losses associated with the victim’s estate can include:

  • The cost of the decedent’s funeral and burial
  • The decedent’s final medical and hospital bills that accrued in the interim between the time of the accident and the time of his or her subsequent death.
  • The lost income that the decedent could have reasonably expected to earn over the course of his or her career had he or she lived.

The losses associated with the surviving family members, however, often include:

  • The value of household services that were provided by the decedent, such as childcare
  • The loss of anticipated financial support that the decedent would have provided
  • The loss of love, community, affection, attention and moral support that would have been enjoyed by survivors had the decedent survived
  • The loss of guidance experienced by the decedent’s children

Although no amount of money can ever bring your loved one back or ameliorate your emotional loss, obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled is critical to your ability to move forward on the path toward healing.

Don’t Delay Consulting with an Experienced Redding, California, Wrongful Death Attorney

Losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence or recklessness is devastating. The dedicated wrongful death attorneys at Maire & Deedon in Redding, California, understand how difficult this experience is for you and are committed to helping you smooth the path ahead. Our formidable legal team has the experience, fortitude, and resources to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 530-246-6050 for more information today.