California Wrongful Death Law – Top things you should know
The law governing wrongful death in the State of California is outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. Wrongful death law provides specific information on who has standing to file wrongful death claims and the types of damages or compensation that may be claimed.
Who is liable and who can sue according to California Wrongful Death Law?
Wrongful death law may vary from state to state regarding who is allowed to file this type of lawsuit. In California, the deceased’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or other minor children who depended on the deceased for half or more of their financial support can sue for wrongful death. If the decedent’s spouse or children are also deceased, grandchildren can also file a claim and anyone else who under California intestate succession laws would be entitled to the decedent’s property, such as surviving siblings or parents.
Wrongful acts can arise out of many circumstances, such as medical malpractice or car accidents. No matter the circumstance, to determine the liability of the party, the wrongful death law requires that the plaintiff prove that the defendant (more likely than not) caused the wrongful death by negligence or intentional harm and that as a result, surviving family members are suffering monetary losses.
What damages can be recovered?
The damages available in these types of lawsuits aim to compensate the heirs for economic and non-economic losses that they would not have experienced if the decedent had lived. The period for which damages are recoverable is determined by the life expectancy of the decedent at the time of the wrongful death or the plaintiff’s life expectancy at the time of the wrongful death, whichever is shorter.
Economic damages represent quantifiable losses as a result of the wrongful death. They include the following:
- The financial support the heirs would have received from the decedent
- Loss of household services
- Expenses related to the decedent’s funeral or burial
- Loss of gifts or benefits the heirs would have received from the decedent
Non-Economic damages represent intangible losses and are also called general damages. These include:
- Loss of companionship, affection, protection, comfort, moral support
- Loss of intimate relations
- Loss of guidance and training
It is important to note that the California wrongful death law does not grant punitive damages. To pursue punitive damages from the liable party for wrongful death, a survival cause of action would have to be filed. Both wrongful death and survival actions can be pursued together if they result from the same wrongful act.
Getting legal help for your wrongful death claim
It is an emotionally challenging ordeal to lose a loved one due to a wrongful act. It is understandable why surviving family members would want legal justice after having had time to grieve. The most important thing in these cases is to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer who can assess your case and determine whether you have a valid claim against the responsible party according to wrongful death law.
More on Wrongful Death:
- What is an Accidental death attorney?
- What is an accidental death lawyer?
- Why You Need the Best Wrongful Death Attorney
- Unlawful Death Lawsuits in California
- What You Should Know Before Filing for Wrongful Death
- 3 Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims
- Wrongful Death Damages You Can Recover
- California Wrongful Death Law - Top things you should know
- Wrongful Death Lawsuit vs. Murder Cases
- The Basic Elements of Wrongful Death Litigation
- Finding the Best Wrongful Death Attorney
- How a Wrongful Death Claim Works
- Pursuing Wrongful Death Settlements
- Recoverable Wrongful Death Damages in California
- Seeking Wrongful Death Settlements
- Suing for Wrongful Death in California
- What is a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
- Who can be awarded Wrongful death damages
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
- Wrongful Death Damages
- Wrongful Death Negligence: the basics
- Receiving and Distributing Wrongful Death Settlements
- A Brief Overview of the Wrongful Death Litigation Process
- Available Defenses against Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- Quick Q&A on Wrongful Death Litigation
Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California. Call or email us for a free consultation.