If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, you are likely wondering what rights you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under California law, the following parties are permitted to file a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased person,
- The surviving domestic partner of the deceased person,
- The surviving children of the deceased person or, if a child of the deceased person has also died, his or her surviving children (grandchildren of the deceased person)
If there is no surviving person who falls within the categories outlined in the statute, the law allows a wrongful death claim to be filed by a person who would be entitled to inherit the deceased person’s property under California’s intestate succession laws. Common examples include the parents or siblings of the deceased person.
If you are unsure whether you qualify to bring a wrongful death claim, an attorney experienced in handling these types of cases can help answer your questions. Additionally, your lawyer will help you understand how any proceeds resulting from the litigation will be distributed among the deceased person’s family members.
It is important to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil matter, not a criminal one. In other words, the defendant will not be convicted of a crime and receive a criminal sentence. The guilt or fault in a wrongful death claim results in the award of money for damages suffered. The party that the court holds responsible for your loved one’s death will be ordered to pay a set sum of money to you and/or your family members. The amount of money set by the court will depend upon your damages such as medical expenses, lost income, funeral costs, and loss of companionship and emotional support.
Finally, you should be aware that there is a statute of limitations (deadline) for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California. This time can be stressful and emotional, but you cannot allow too much time to pass before considering your legal options. California’s statute of limitations is two (2) years for wrongful death claims. You are entitled to take time to grieve and settle yourself, but do not let this deadline expire.
Call (213) 351-3513 to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney at the Law Office of Alex Cha & Associates. Allow us to protect your rights during this difficult time. We are committed to providing great legal service with a personal touch.