Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful Death LawsuitWhen a loved one dies because an ex-con got a hold of a weapon carelessly left by a cop in a car, you have cause to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You may even go so far as to sue the government for negligence, with sufficient evidence. What if the decedent didn’t have any living survivor, can anyone else sue?

Not Just Family

An unfortunate turn of events can cause a ripple that destroys multiple lives. In some cases, the tragedy affects people outside the deceased person’s family. In California, you can seek the expertise of a wrongful death attorney and file a lawsuit even when you are not a blood relative of the decedent.

Other than the surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, and/or siblings, the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 also identifies the following as having the right to recover financial damages for loss suffered due to the victim’s death:

  • The putative spouse (or the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage);
  • A minor who was financially dependent on, and lived with the deceased person for the previous 180 days;

Individuals who were dependent on the decedent are, essentially, entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

A Complex Legal Issue

What if the decedent is an unborn child? Can parents sue for damages?

Under California law, a fetus is not a “person” as prescribed within the meaning of the wrongful death statute. This means parents cannot bring a wrongful death lawsuit. But if they witnessed the negligence that led to the death of the fetus, they have cause to file for infliction of emotional shock.

If the fetus suffers an injury, and is born alive but later dies, the parents can sue for wrongful death as specified under California’s Civil Code Section 43.1.

It’s a complicated matter that only a wrongful death lawyer can untangle and clarify.

Nothing can replace the death of a loved one. But a legitimate wrongful death lawsuit can help grieving families and dependents receive financial recompense and make negligent parties accountable for their actions.