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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death

What Qualifies As Or Defines Wrongful Death Under California Law?

In California, when a wrongful or negligence act causes the death of another person, that is termed as wrongful death.

Who Is Legally Allowed To File A Wrongful Death Claim Or Lawsuit In California?

In California, a wrongful death claim or lawsuit can be filed by statutory heirs. The rule on statutory heirs is set forth in the Code of Civil Procedure. Statutory heirs are considered to be a spouse, domestic partner, children, and grandchildren. If none of those statutory heirs or individuals exist, it gets a little tricky. The intestate succession under the California Probate Code will apply.

It’s worth noting that statutory heirs are the only ones who can bring a lawsuit. Further, all of the statutory heirs have to be in a single lawsuit. For example, if there is a spouse and two children, all three are statutory heirs. They all have a wrongful death claim and must be included in a single wrongful death action. Any statutory heir not included in the wrongful death action is what’s known as an omitted heir. An omitted heir’s only recourse is to pursue any recovery from those statutory heirs in the wrongful death action because there can be only one wrongful death action. Therefore, it is critical to confirm and include all statutory heirs.

What Are The Steps To Begin The Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process?

The first step in a wrongful death lawsuit is to make sure that you have right statutory heirs. In the past, we watched a case go down in flames at a large firm because the attorneys trying the case never established that the plaintiff was a statutory heir to the decedent. The case was lost on that issue alone. Therefore, the first step is determining who the statutory heirs are and contacting all of them. They must be notified that they have the right to make this claim. Any statutory heir would be considered a necessary party to an action. They all have to be included. Once the statutory heirs have been established, the next step is filing a complaint.

What Are Potential Damages That Survivors Are Entitled To In Wrongful Death Cases?

Wrongful death is separate from a survival action, which is a different cause of action that belongs to the individual who is deceased. In wrongful death cases, you can recover both economic and noneconomic damages. The economic damages that you can recover as a statutory heir include the value of the financial support that the decedent would have contributed to the family during their life, such as gifts, wages, and benefits. Statutory heirs can also recover funeral and burial expenses and reasonable value of household services that the decedent would have provided.

Noneconomic damages include love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support. However, statutory heirs are not entitled to recover for grief, sorrow, or mental anguish. They also cannot recover for the decedent’s pain and suffering.

For more information on Wrongful Death Cases In California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (855) 675-2901 today.

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