File Wrongful Death Claims – Who’s Eligable?
In California, and specifically the California civil code, it is very clear on who is able to file a wrongful death suit through the California civil court system. Common people eligible to file a wrongful death claim in California would be the surviving spouse or domestic partner of the victim, a child or children of the victim as well as anybody who was dependent upon the deceased. this could be parents, stepchildren or external family members as well as anybody who may have had a property claim or entitlement against the deceased, assuming they had no will or estate planning in place.
There are other regulations with respect to filing a wrongful death claim and particularly how those potential claimants are named and brought into the court case. An experienced wrongful death attorney can provide more clarification on those issues.
Qualifying – Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim.
The main basis for a wrongful death claim in California is that the death occurred as a result of someone else’ negligence or lack of care and that contributed directly to their death. Further than this the facts and the circumstances of that death have to be proved in relationship to negligence and to the death to be able to successfully recover damages in a wrongful death claim.
Death by way of suicide does allow the possibility of a wrongful death claim to be filed. It must be proved that there was somebody who owed, or was obligated to provide a certain level of care whether it be medical treatment or supervision to the deceased. Then it must be proved that the person did not provide that standard of care to the deceased therefore proving that they were negligent party that participated in that death.
In California there are also some situations where a death could occur but the California laws does not allow for a wrongful death claim to be pursued. An example of that would be a death of an unborn child. Based on the California Supreme Court ruling it was cited that “a fetus is not a person within the meaning of our wrongful death statute until there has been a live birth”.
Another, maybe more common, situation where a wrongful death cannot be pursued through the courts is in the events of a homicide that was justifiable.
Fault & Recovery – Wrongful Death Claims
A common misconception in California is that if the deceased contributed to their own death, no wrongful death claim can be filed. This however is not true because California uses a pure comparative fault rule which means that even if the deceased contributed to their own death in some form, that they still may be able to have their family file a wrongful death suit and recover compensation for damages. Specifically the courts and or parties will determine the percentage of fault assigned to each party and the death, and then further assign the compensation based on the percentage of that fault.
In cases where fault maybe shared on a death it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney who has experience in wrongful death claims cases. These attorneys can look at all of the details surrounding the death as well as balance out an anticipated level of faults and then better understand any potential for a favorable outcome with regards to compensation for damages.
Simply put, just because someone may have contributed to their own death does not rule out the possibility that their family and loved ones and or dependents can file a wrongful death claim and be successful at recovering damages.