Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The concept of wrongful death is often misunderstood, in large part because of the very specific statutes that govern such claims. Below, the wrongful death attorneys at The Cartwright Law Firm, Inc. in San Francisco explain what’s involved in wrongful death actions and what you can expect if you file a claim.

Filing Wrongful Death Claims

First of all, wrongful death applies to a death that results from negligence, recklessness, or a wrongful act – in other words, someone, something, or some entity is responsible. A wrongful death might be the result of a fatal fire, an automobile accident, or medical malpractice.

A wrongful death claim is a civil suit that seeks damages from the defendant for such things as medical and funeral expenses, future earnings, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and other types of physical, emotional, and financial damages. In California, the claim must be filed within two years of the death.

California Wrongful Death Statutes

The statutes governing wrongful death lawsuits can vary, but in most states, including California, only the surviving family members can pursue a civil lawsuit for damages. Those family members (in order of eligibility to file) include:

  • Spouse, children, and issue of any deceased children
  • Parents, followed by siblings
  • Children of deceased siblings
  • Grandparents, followed by their lineal descendants

In addition, another group can also file a wrongful death claim if there is proof they were financially dependent upon the deceased person at the time of death. This group includes common-law spouses, their children, and stepchildren.

Speak To An Experienced Attorney

If you feel that you or other family members have a valid wrongful death claim, it’s important to seek legal representation from an attorney who has experience with personal injury and wrongful death law. The attorneys of The Cartwright Law Firm in San Francisco have helped many clients receive the benefits they’re entitled to because of another’s negligence.

For a free initial consultation, call us at 415-433-0444, or send us an email to contact us.