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Suing for Wrongful Death in California

This content about wrongful death in California was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

In the state of California, damages in a wrongful death suit can include both economic and non-economic damages, which are often referred to as general damages. These represent non-material losses to the wrongful death claimants as the result of a loved one’s death due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, company, or entity.

Who can sue for Wrongful Death in California?

The California Code of Civil Procedure number 377.60 allows bringing wrongful death claims by spouses or domestic partners, children, grandchildren (only if the decent’s children’s died as well), and other minor children (such as stepchildren) who were financially dependent for at least 50% of the deceased’s support, the decedent’s parents if the decedent provided some support to them, and any other person who could be entitled to the deceased’s property under the laws of California on intestate succession.

What counts as a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought by survivors for any claim based on negligence, recklessness, gross negligence, an intentional unlawful act, or any violation of the decedent’s rights that caused the decedent’s death.

Wrongful acts can include (but not limited to):

  • Civil rights violation that caused death
  • Police shootings
  • Jail neglect
  • Car accidents (including being hit by a DUI driver)
  • Drowning
  • Medical malpractice
  • “Slip-and-fall” accidents
  • Assault and battery
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Child and Elder abuse or neglect

If the death of the deceased was caused by a dog bite or mauling or defective product, the California law allows the heirs to also sue in “strict liability,” even if the defendant was not negligent.

Recoverable damages

Though general damages are allowed for the surviving family in wrongful death lawsuits in California generally, the loss of “love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support,” the decedent’s pain and suffering or emotional distress are not included, nor is the “grief or sorrow” of the plaintiff family member caused by the death of their loved one.

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.

This content was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.