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What are the wrongful death laws in California?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2022 | Firm News |

Losing a loved one to wrongful death is one of the most devastating experiences that anyone can face. California residents who lost a loved one in this manner should know the state’s wrongful death laws.

How does wrongful death occur?

Wrongful death means that a person has died because of someone else’s negligence, gross negligence, recklessness or intentional act. Various situations can lead to a wrongful death such as a serious car accident, medical malpractice, elder abuse or neglect, child abuse and even homicide.

Who can sue for wrongful death?

In California, surviving members of the victim’s family or a personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If the victim would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had lived, there may be standing for a wrongful death claim.

The following family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit:

• The victim’s surviving spouse
• The domestic partner of the victim
• The victim’s children
• The victim’s grandchildren if the victim’s children are deceased
• The personal representative of the family on behalf of minor stepchildren

It’s also possible for the surviving family members to sue for strict liability if the victim died as a result of a dog attack or a defective product.

What damages are available in wrongful death cases?

If a wrongful death case is successful, the surviving family members of the victim could recover the following damages:

• Medical expenses
• Funeral and burial expenses
• Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
• Loss of affection, companionship and consortium
• Loss of protection, guidance and support

Punitive damages are not recoverable damages in wrongful death claims unless the death was caused by felony homicide and the defendant was convicted of the crime.

Knowing the state’s laws can help you determine if you have a valid claim for wrongful death.