Wrongful death lawsuits are a specific type of lawsuit filed when a person dies as a result of another person or entity’s negligence. Survivors of the deceased most commonly file the suit, and the damages to be recovered are generally all financial. Wrongful death cases are different than homicide cases in that there is an element of negligence in wrongful death, whereas homicide is a deliberate act.
There are a limited number of people who can file wrongful death suits in California. These people include:
- The spouse or children of the deceased person, including a putative spouse (someone with reasonable belief that they are married to the decedent)
- The domestic partner of the deceased person
- The parents or surviving siblings of the deceased person
- The deceased person’s nieces or nephews if their parents are deceased
- Grandparents or grandchildren of the deceased
- Any individual who was financially dependent on the deceased person at the time he or she passed away
In a case where multiple family members wish to file a wrongful death claim together, one of the first steps in the case is to determine how damages awarded will be divided among the claimants. California juries only award a single lump sum, and it’s up to the group to decide the division of that sum. If they cannot come to an agreement, they must return to court to get a judgment.
Damages in a wrongful death suit can include money to cover funeral or burial expenses, as well as medical and hospital bills and lost wages and earning potential. Surviving family members may receive damages to cover the value of household services, loss of love and affection and more.
For more information and guidance related to wrongful death claims in California, speak with an experienced San Diego lawyer at Thorsnes, Bartolotta, McGuire.