A wrongful death claim is authorized by the operation of law in California. This law allows only certain people to file a lawsuit for the recovery of money following the negligent or intentional death of another. If you do not qualify under the statute, most likely you are not authorized under the law to bring a lawsuit, or to recover money damages from the wrongful death of another.
These People Can File a Wrongful Death Claim on Behalf of Someone Else:
According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60, the law will allow the following people related to the deceased individual to make a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse, if the person was married at the time of death;
- A surviving domestic partner, which means, "a person who, at the time of the decedent's death, was the domestic partner of the decedent in a registered domestic partnership";
- Any children of the deceased;
- If there are no surviving children, even if there is or is not a spouse or domestic partner, then any person(s) who would be entitled to the property of the deceased, as if he or she did not have a will (intestate succession)*;
- If at the time of death, there were individuals dependent on the deceased including a putative spouse, the children of the putative spouse, stepchildren or parents of the deceased. A "putative spouse" means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid.
- A minor, if that minor had resided with the person for 180 days in the person's home and was dependent on the person for at least half of his/her support.
- The decedent's personal representative on behalf of those authorized to bring the suit.
What If Multiple Eligible People Make Wrongful Death Claims?
Obviously there may be several combinations of people who could make claims at the same time, such as a spouse or domestic partner and the children of the deceased. A spouse or domestic partner and the parents of the deceased if there are no children. Maybe the home had several nieces or nephews in the home being raised by the deceased. A claim by all these qualifying people could be made.
Ultimately, the law requires that everyone who may have a legitimate claim, must be named in the wrongful death suit either as a plaintiff (this is the name of the person who sues), or as an involuntary defendant. Because there are so many possible complications with a wrongful death claim, it is critical you consult and hire an attorney familiar with wrongful death claims and who can and will fight for your rights against the person who caused the death, or insurance company representing that person. Consulting David H. Ricks and the Inland Empire Law Group, is an excellent place to start. With experience as a litigation attorney since 1987, and having handled thousands of cases, David H. Ricks has the knowledge, compassion, understanding and desire to handle your wrongful death claim.
Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Are Here to Help
One last note, don't delay in bringing your wrongful death claim. Evidence can be lost, witnesses may disappear or a statute of limitation may be missed. If these things happen because of a delay, what may have been a case for which recovery could be achieved, may be lost or eliminated altogether by simple delay. Call now for a complimentary consultation. Call locally at 909-481-0100, or call 1-888-MYIELAW. From our offices in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville, we proudly serve Fontana, Ontario, and then entire Inland Empire/High Desert region.
* Intestate succession may give wrongful death rights to: Any surviving parent, if there is a spouse but no children at the time of death. If there is no surviving spouse, chidren or parents, then to the surviving siblings of the decedent, or if no surviving siblings then to the nieces and nephews of the deceased. Under limited circumstances a grandchild or grandchildren could raise a claim.
The funds available from the wrongful death claim are not equally distributed, but allocated based upon the circumstances and relationship of each person making a claim.