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Who can file a wrongful death claim in California?

The death of a loved one is always traumatic -- but when that death was caused by someone else's negligence, it's even worse.

While a wrongful death claim won't restore your loved one to you, it is a way for you to get some measure of justice on their behalf. It may also be the best way for you to secure your family's future.

Who can file wrongful death claims?

Every state is different. In some areas of the country, only a representative of the deceased's estate is allowed to file such a claim.

California, however, takes a much more liberal approach. Wrongful death actions can be filed by the deceased's:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Children (or the grandchildren of a deceased child)
  • Stepchildren
  • Any minor who had lived in the deceased house for at least 180 days prior to the death and received at least one-half of their support from the deceased
  • Anybody else who might be entitled to inherit from the deceased under state law as part of intestate succession

In many cases, these kinds of lawsuits are brought on behalf of several plaintiffs at once, like the deceased's spouse and their minor children.

What can be obtained through a wrongful death claim?

Wrongful death claims are designed to help the deceased's survivors recoup their losses. This includes both economic losses, like the value of the deceased's final medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and the loss of the deceased's income to the family. It can also include noneconomic damages that are harder to quantify, like the value of the deceased's companionship and guidance to their loved ones.

If your loved one was killed by someone else's foolish act, find out more about what steps you should take next to protect your legal interests.

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