Losing a loved one is always painful. When that loss occurs due to the negligence of another, it can be shocking – leaving you hurt, angry, frustrated and confused. You may want justice done for the life lost and a wrongful death lawsuit can be a powerful tool to achieve it.
When does a wrongful death claim apply?
Wrongful death claims arise when one person dies as a result of the negligence of another person. Everyone owes a duty of reasonable care to those around us. When someone violates that duty and does some act which is not reasonable under the circumstances, resulting in the death of another, they can be held liable for that death.
The circumstances leading to a wrongful death claim can occur nearly anywhere, or anytime. Car accidents are a frequent situation where people act negligently, giving rise to the claim. Medical malpractice and unsafe conditions on property are also common.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
Spouses, domestic partners and children are legally entitled to bring a wrongful death action. Grandchildren may file suit as well, if their parent (the deceased’s child) is no longer alive. If the decedent had no one in their immediate line of descent, their parents or siblings may bring the action. Other relatives of the deceased, such as step-children, may also be able file suit if they were dependent upon the decedent.
Whoever chooses to bring a wrongful death claim, there is a time limit in which the action must be filed – this is called the statute of limitations. California gives claimants two years to file suit, calculated from the date of the decedent’s death. If the claim is not brought within two years, all rights to file it are lost.