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Can Family Sue For Wrongful Death? - The Larsen Firm

Can Family Sue For Wrongful Death?

Losing a loved one can be incredibly difficult, especially if someone else caused your loved one’s death. Can family sue for wrongful death? Generally, they can, but there are a few caveats. Surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death suit to recover compensation for their financial losses. While nothing can truly replace the loss of a loved one, financial awards may help ease your burden on your journey to healing. 

Filing a wrongful death suit is also a way to hold responsible parties accountable for causing your loved one’s death. Because of the complexity of many wrongful death cases, contacting a wrongful death attorney early on helps protect your legal rights and increases your chance of recovering. What’s more, there are deadlines in place for when you must file the lawsuit. If you miss these important deadlines, you may be barred from bringing the action in the future. A wrongful death attorney can help you meet these deadlines. 

Our The Larsen Firm understand that you’re hurting, and you just want to move on and heal. Our legal acumen and advocacy prepare us to handle even the most complex wrongful death cases. 

What Is a Wrongful Death Suit?

A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury lawsuit. Bringing a wrongful death suit gives surviving family members an avenue to recover compensation for the loss of their loved one due to someone else’s actions. 

Common types of wrongful death actions include:

  • Car accidents, 
  • Pedestrian accidents,
  • Medical malpractice, 
  • Product liability, 
  • Toxic exposure,
  • Negligence, and
  • Intentional wrongdoing.

This is not a complete list of all possible wrongful death actions. If you think that someone else’s actions caused your loved one’s death, protect your rights by contacting an experienced attorney. 

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

Can family sue for wrongful death? Under California law, the following people may be able to file a wrongful death action:

  • Spouse, 
  • Domestic partner, 
  • Children, 
  • Dependent minors,
  • Grandchildren, and
  • Other heirs. 

Note that they may bring an action on their own behalf, or a personal representative may do so.

Because they aren’t necessarily as straightforward as they sound, let’s talk about each of these categories. 

California’s rules around who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit can be confusing, especially if you’re in the midst of mourning the loss of a loved one. A wrongful death attorney can answer your questions and evaluate your case to determine if you can bring a lawsuit. 

Spouse or Domestic Partner

A decedent’s spouse, domestic partner, or putative spouse can bring a wrongful death action. 

A spouse refers to someone lawfully married to the decedent. A putative spouse is someone who sincerely believed that they were in a lawful marriage with the decedent but, in fact, were not. Domestic partners are those who are in a lawful registered domestic partnership before the decedent’s death. 

Children, Grandchildren, and Dependent Minors

Dependent minors include children who lived with and were financially dependent on the decedent for at least 180 consecutive days before the decedent’s death. Stepchildren and children of the putative spouse may also bring wrongful death action. 

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit if the Decedent Was Unmarried and Without Children?

If the decedent is unmarried and has no children, then the person who would inherit the decedent’s property if they didn’t have a will may bring a wrongful death action. These might be siblings of the decedent, for example. 

Can Parents Sue for Wrongful Death of Their Child?

Parents may bring a wrongful death action if they were financially dependent on the decedent. Generally speaking, financial dependence means that the parent received at least 50% of their financial support from the decedent. 

If the decedent’s parents are deceased, then the legal guardians of the decedent may bring the wrongful death action. 

As you can see, determining who can bring a wrongful death claim can be complex. It’s helpful to talk to an accident attorney with experience in wrongful death claims to navigate this issue

What Do Plaintiff’s Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Action

To have a wrongful death claim, survivors need to prove the following:

  • Their loved one died,
  • Someone else’s negligent or intentional actions caused their loved one’s death, and
  • The survivors are suffering financial or emotional harm because of the death of their loved one. 

The Larsen Firm can help you uncover the evidence that you need to prove your wrongful death case. We also communicate with the insurance companies, third parties, and at-fault parties on your behalf, so you can focus on what’s important to you. 

How Much Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?

You may be able to cover all “just” compensation arising from the wrongful death of your loved one. That said, California typically does not allow you to recover damages for the decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement. Exceptions may apply, however. Talking with a wrongful death attorney helps make sure that you receive the maximum compensation available to you. 

Factors that the court might consider in awarding compensation include:

  • The age and expected life expectancy of the decedent, 
  • The circumstances of the wrongful death, 
  • The type and amount of support the decedent provided, and 
  • The losses you experience and expect to experience because of the death. 

Having an experienced wrongful death attorney helps maximize your chances of recovering compensation. 

The Larsen Firm—Providing Compassionate and Fierce Advocacy to Personal Injury Victims and Their Families for Over 40 Years

We have recovered over $950 million for our clients over the 40+ years that we’ve been in business. We pride ourselves on providing one-on-one client service. You’re not a case to us—you’re a person, and the “case” is your life. With an over 99% success rate, we’re known for our excellence and competence. Our performance has earned us multiple awards, such as Tier 1 Personal Injury Law Firm recognition by US News. All five of our attorneys have earned the Super Lawyers ranking, an award given to only about 5% of California’s attorneys. Our compassion and excellence set us apart from the rest. Call us today, or contact us online. 

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