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What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?

When a negligent person causes an accident so severe that a victim does not survive, that is considered a wrongful death in California.

Accidents can happen in just a moment, and sometimes they are fatal. When that is the case, surviving loved ones are left grieving the loss. In addition to their grief, family members are also left with expensive funeral and burial costs, a loss of services, and more. Individuals can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages for these losses, but these claims are not easy to file. A California wrongful death lawyer can help you overcome the challenges these claims present, so you receive full compensation for your loss.

Defining Wrongful Death in California

A wrongful death in California occurs when a person passes away due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person. Wrongful death claims are civil cases intended to compensate loved ones left behind for their losses. While compensation can never bring a loved one back, it can help offset the costs of the funeral and burial, as well as services the deceased may have provided, such as maintaining a home.

Wrongful death claims are sometimes filed when a person has passed away from criminal acts, such as murder. However, they are separate from a criminal trial that may be ongoing due to the wrongful act. A decision in a civil case will not affect a criminal case and a conviction also does not necessarily mean a wrongful death claim will be successful.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

Although California law allows individuals to file a wrongful death claim, not everyone can file these types of claims. According to the statute, only the following individuals can file a claim:

  • The surviving spouse of the deceased
  • The domestic partner of the deceased
  • The surviving children of the deceased

In certain instances, a person other than those listed above may file a wrongful death claim. To do this, a person wishing to file a claim must show that they had an interest in the deceased’s estate according to the intestate succession laws of the state. In this situation, a person’s parents or siblings may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

The stepchildren, parents, or person considered a spouse or child of the deceased may also file a wrongful death claim in certain situations. To do this, they must show that they depended on the deceased individual for financial support.

Wrongful death claims have a statute of limitations, or time limit, on them. In California, the time limit is two years from the date of death. When a claim is not filed within this time, family members will likely lose their right to claim compensation.

Call Our Murrieta Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, do not hesitate to call our Murrieta wrongful death lawyers at Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you navigate the personal injury system, negotiate with the insurance companies, and ensure you receive the maximum damages you deserve. Call us at (951) 821-9875 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.