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What are the basics of wrongful death claims in California?

Losing a loved one can be extremely difficult, especially when it occurs as the result of someone else's negligence. California law does enable you to seek damages for your losses through pursuing a wrongful death claim. When doing so, you should be familiar with when and how to go about filing the lawsuit.

The wrongful death statute outlines the people who may file such a claim, and those are the following:

  • The decedent's surviving spouse
  • The decedent's surviving children
  • The decedent's surviving domestic partner
  • The decedent's putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren or parents if they can prove they were financially dependent on the decedent

If no survivors exist, then anyone can prove that they would receive the decedent's property through intestate succession may file the claim.

Once you determine that you are eligible to file the claim, you must do so before the statute of limitations expires. In California, plaintiffs have two years from the date of death to file the lawsuit. Failing to initiate the claim in time can mean losing the right to bring the suit.

The damages you may be awarded could include money for the funeral and burial as well as to cover the cost of medical bills. You could also receive compensation for the income that is lost as a result of your loved one's death. In some cases, family members are awarded compensation for the emotional loss they experience.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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