Wrongful Death Claims in California: An Overview

The accidental death of a loved one can entitle certain family members to compensation. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at  The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers to help you explore the options available to you. We use experience, skill, and an honest approach to help people struggling with the disruption an accidental death brings to their life. Losing a loved one is never easy, but we pride ourselves on giving the best representation to obtain fair compensation.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

According to the California Code of Civil Procedure §377.60 (CCCP), there is “a cause of action for a wrongful death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Wrongful death can range from a tragic car accident all the away to murder. The plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence these four elements: (1) duty of care; (2) breach of duty; (3) causation; and (4) damages. This is a less stringent burden than the standard for criminal cases. Most often, the wrongful death claim is brought by family members for the death of a loved one through the negligence of another person. The decedent must not have caused their death in the entirety. In other words, the responsible party must have been a substantial factor or the probable cause of death.  The Statute of limitation in bringing the claim is two years.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

Under the CCCP §377.61, there are three groups of individuals that may bring a wrongful death claim of the decedent:

(a)   Surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, issue of deceased children. In the case of no surviving issue of the decedent, those who would take the property of the decedent by intestate succession can assert the claim.

(b)  An individual who is a dependent of the decedent, a putative spouse, stepchildren, or parents. A putative spouse is someone who believes in good faith that there is a valid marriage, but the marriage is void; or

(c)   A minor that lived with the decedent for the previous 180 days and was depended on the decedent for one-half or more of the dependent’s income.

What Types of Damages Are Available?

Both economic and non-economic damages are available in a wrongful death claim. Economic damages available include medical bills of the decedent right before his or her death, funeral/burial expenses, and financial support of dependents that the decedent would have provided. Non-economic damages are non-monetary things that are given a monetary amount, including loss of companionship, the decedent’s love, care, etc.

If you have lost a loved one in a tragic accident, there are options available to you. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to assert your claim and help you receive what you are entitled to. The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers will work tirelessly to provide legal guidance and personal care to help you through this difficult time. Let us take on the responsibility of using our vast amount of resources to fight your fair compensation.

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