A wrongful death is similar to other negligence actions where, because of a person’s wrongful or negligent actions, that person caused the death of another person. The difference between a negligence claim due to an accident and a claim for wrongful death is that in a wrongful death suit you are not the injured party. The person who tragically passed is the injured party.
Under California law, to sue for a wrongful death you need to have standing. The California wrongful death statute allows spouses, domestic partners, children, deceased child’s children (grandchildren). If there are children and no spouse, then deceased’s parents, if no parents then siblings, and if no siblings or parents then grandparents. Additionally, any minor who was a dependent of the deceased and lived with the deceased for at least 180 days before the deceased passed away can bring a lawsuit.
If you qualify as one of the persons above and the death was caused by a negligent or wrongful act, such as a car crash, improper maintenance of a property, etc., then you probably have a claim. To prove a wrongful death action, you must prove the same elements as in a negligence action. That is, you must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the deceased, the defendant’s actions breached that duty, and the defendant’s actions were the cause or proximate cause of the death.
Now, once that is completed what do you get? You must prove what damages the defendant owes. There are two categories of damages, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages for wrongful death include:
The next step is to contact our law firm if you have a loved one who tragically passed away. We can provide guidance and a consultation on the specific facts of your case to determine the best path forward. We are deeply sorry that you are having to seek out legal help at such a difficult time in your life.