Who can sue for wrongful death damages in California?

The death of a loved one can inflict trauma and pain into the lives of San Mateo County residents. Fatal accidents can happen in many ways and occur due to different forms of negligent contact. When a wrongful death happens, surviving family members should know their rights with regard to who may sue for the recovery of their damages.

Unlike other states that require the personal representative of the decedents’ estates to file wrongful death claims, California allows certain related and dependent individuals to directly pursue wrongful death claims. For example, a decedent’s spouse or partner may sue under the state’s wrongful death statute, and as may the decedent’s children. If those individuals are not available to initiate litigation, people who would benefit from the decedent’s estate through intestate succession may start a lawsuit based on their loss.

But California’s list of permissible parties extends beyond those who have blood or legal ties to the decedent. In some cases a person who is dependent upon the decedent may be able to serve as the complaining party in a personal injury case. Individuals should consult with their family law attorneys to better understand this possibility.

A wrongful death can happen when a victim is driving, while at work or whenever they have the misfortune of being near someone else whose negligence rises to such a level that it causes a loss of life. Their loved ones can seek to recover their damages when these tragedies happen. Personal injury lawyers can counsel them on their options for understanding who may sue and what damages they may choose to seek in their lawsuits.

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