Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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When someone dies due to negligence or a wrongful act committed by another person, this is called a wrongful death. When a wrongful death occurs, the survivors of the individual who has passed (or the personal representative of his or her estate) can bring an action for wrongful death in civil court against the defendant (a person, company, or government entity). 

Wrongful death cases often involve medical malpractice, car and truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, product defects, and work accidents. So who is the defendant? If someone is killed in a car accident after their tire unexpectedly blew out, the tire manufacturer may be the defendant; if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol and crashes into someone else killing him, the drunk driver may be the defendant; if someone is walking down the sidewalk when a city bus plows into them, killing them, the city may be the defendant. 

Generally, wrongful death lawsuits are brought against the party responsible by the spouse or children of the decedent. But what happens if the individual who has been killed doesn’t have a spouse or a child? Is there anyone who can still bring a lawsuit?

Who Can Bring a Case for Wrongful Death?

As stated, in California the spouse or children of the deceased have the right to file for wrongful death. Additionally, the domestic partner of the individual killed also has this right. 

However, if the individual who was killed did not have a spouse, child, or domestic partner, the siblings, parents, or individual who was dependent on the deceased prior to him or her being killed can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. However, those who claim to have been dependent upon the deceased prior to his or her death must be able to prove that this was the case. Stepchildren and parents can also qualify.

Someone who believed in good faith that they were married to the decedent and lived with them could be considered a putative spouse, and would therefore qualify to bring a case for wrongful death – unless they were already legally married to someone else. 

Statute of Limitations

When you’ve just lost so much it can be difficult to think about anything outside of your grief. However, it’s important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California personal injury attorney as soon as possible, since the statute of limitations is just two years from the date that the individual has died. Otherwise you may not be able to receive the compensation that you require to support yourself going forward. 

Contact a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney

At the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, our experienced California wrongful death lawyers work strategically to help our clients obtain some compensation for their immeasurable loss. While no amount of money can bring your loved one back, it can help to lessen the burdens you face moving forward. When you become our client, you will have peace of mind knowing that our legal team is on your side. We will guide you through all aspects of your personal injury claim and make sure that your interests are protected. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

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