Claims involving wrongful death can be made in the California court of law when an individual has passed away due to the negligence of another party. Though loved ones are inclined to act fast and file a wrongful death claim, it of utmost importance to know whether they have legal right to do so.
Who Has the Legal Standing to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under California's wrongful death laws, only specified parties have the legal standing to file such claims. More importantly, when one eligible party has filed a legal claim to compensation, other eligible parties may no longer be able to file the same claim.
The idea behind the “first party to act” rule is to eliminate conflicting decisions that may arise with multiple claims. In that sense, it is important to seek legal counsel in a timely manner to make sure compensation is available.
Under California's laws, these people are first eligible to file a Wrongful Death Claim:
The Domestic Partner of the Deceased
The Children of the Deceased
The Spouse of the Deceased
For cases where the above parties do not exist or have no interest in filing a wrongful death claim, the right is then extended to anyone who can potentially inherit property or assets of the deceased. These new eligible parties must fulfill the requirements of California's estate distribution laws.
People who may be eligible under the extended rights are typically the parents, immediate siblings, or named beneficiaries of the deceased. For specific details, it is highly advised to check with an experienced attorney before proceeding with a wrongful death claim.
Types of Damages Recoverable Under California Law
When filing wrongful death claims, parties may ask for economic and non-economic compensation for their hardships. These damages often include immediate, financial expenses such as burial costs and prior healthcare bills of the deceased individual.
Economic compensation may even extend to future expenses and burdens that include loss of income, benefits, and other relevant factors associated with the deceased individual. Even intangible factors such as loss of companionship and community may be filed with the right case and evidence.
The damages recoverable under wrongful death claims in California is ultimately not a clear, rigid set of guidelines. Many factors and contextual evidence can influence the outcome and amount of compensation victims are entitled to. It is highly advised to share your case information with an experienced lawyer to figure out the best next steps.
Important Limitations to Know
The numerous legal steps that victims of the deceased need to take after a wrongful death is frustrating and upsetting for many; however, it is important to know that there is a strict deadline where victims may be able to take legal retribution.
In California, there is a strict two-year statute of limitation that is applicable for wrongful death claims. In other words, eligible parties must file a legal claim with their lawyer before the two-year deadline has passed.
This is a legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice.
For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (OCTA).
Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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