The death of a family member can be devastating, especially if it was due to someone else’s negligence. According to California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) § 377.60, surviving family members or a designated representative of the estate can sue for wrongful death.
A wrongful death can leave you and your family wondering what to do and how to hold the responsible person accountable. A wrongful death lawsuit can give you and your loved ones some amount of closure and help you financially recover from your tragedy.
What Counts As Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death in California is “the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another,” according to CCP § 377.60. Like a personal injury case, a wrongful death case is often based on negligence. Unlike a homicide case, a wrongful death case is carried out in civil court, meaning there are no criminal charges.
A wrongful death claim does not have to be based on negligence, though. Sometimes, you can sue someone for intentionally killing someone. You only have to show that the other party was more likely than not responsible for your loved one’s death. That can be through simple recklessness, malpractice, defective manufacturing, or any other number of ways.
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Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
In general, family members and anyone who has otherwise been designated as a representative of the estate can sue for wrongful death in California. Families can be large, though, so it may help to break down who CCP § 377.60 says can sue for wrongful death.
According to California law, the list of people who can sue for wrongful death includes:
- Surviving spouses
- Domestic partners
- The surviving heirs of deceased children
- Any minor who relied on the deceased for at least half of their financial support, such as stepchildren
- Anyone else who would inherit the property of the deceased through California law
Families don’t always work together, and there might be a dispute over who gets to sue for wrongful death. We can help. An experienced lawyer will be able to figure out how to handle the claim and who has a right to carry out the case.
If you’re not sure whether you can sue for wrongful death, you can always get a free initial consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys in California. Our team can assess your situation and tell you what steps you should take to hold the negligent party accountable.
What If Multiple People Sue for the Death of the Same Person?
In California, multiple people cannot legally sue for the same wrongful death. This can make deciding who gets to sue and who gets compensation tricky. In most cases, the family designates one person who carries out the claim, and then when the claim succeeds, the compensation is split.
It can be tricky to decide who is the best party to carry out the claim. A California wrongful death lawyer can help you and your family decide the best course of action, including how to allocate the payment for damages.
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How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
The first step to most wrongful death claims in California is hiring a lawyer. Without the help of an attorney, any civil claim is incredibly difficult. This is especially true in wrongful death claims, which often require a designated representative to file a claim on the family’s behalf.
For a successful claim, you and your lawyer will need to establish that there are grounds for a wrongful death suit. In the event that negligence caused your loved one’s death, you will need to show that:
- The other party owed the deceased a duty of care (i.e., a standard level to which anyone can reasonably be expected to treat another person)
- The other party breached that duty of care by acting negligently
- That breach of duty caused your loved one’s death and subsequently caused your family monetary damages
To get started with your wrongful death claim, you can meet with a lawyer for free. Once you have a good idea of what you need to do and how a wrongful death attorney can help, our team will get to work to help you and your family recover from your loved one’s death.
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What Evidence Do You Need for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a criminal case, prosecutors need to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant is guilty. However, in a civil case like a wrongful death claim, you only need to show that it is more likely than not that the other party was responsible. However, you still need solid evidence that shows the other party’s negligence.
Evidence in a wrongful death claim can include:
- Pictures of the scene of an accident
- Surveillance video
- Criminal records
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Medical records
- Police reports
Some of the evidence that you’ll need is only available through an experienced lawyer. That’s why it’s best to hire a professional who knows how to investigate your case and gather the evidence needed to show that you are owed compensation.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Lawyer in California Today
California wrongful death lawyers at Simmrin Law Group know that, after a loved one passes away, the last thing that you need is the stress of a legal battle. You should be able to grieve in peace while an attorney handles your claim.
Call us or contact us online to get a free consultation with our team. We’re dedicated to helping Californians protect their rights and hold negligent parties responsible for their actions.