If a person or a company’s agent acts in a negligent way that causes the death of another person, the person or company can be held liable in a wrongful death action. California has specific rules regarding this particular cause of action, including who can file the complaint and when it can be filed. If you recently lost a loved one due to another person or company’s actions, a San Francisco wrongful death lawyer can explain these rules to you.
Section 377.60 of the California Code of Civil Procedure sets out the guidelines about who is able to bring forth a wrongful death claim. According to the code, the surviving spouse, domestic partner, child and individuals who would receive property according to intestate succession can generally file a wrongful death claim. Stepchildren and children of the putative spouse can also file a claim. These rules can be complicated and a San Francisco wrongful death lawyer can help explain if you fall under one of the accepted parties to file a wrongful death claim.
Although multiple parties may have the ability to file a wrongful death claim, California’s one action rule mandates that all claims must be filed together during a single action against a single tortfeasor. This means that each family member or potential plaintiff must join together in the action and split the jury award or settlement. The rule was created to prevent multiple lawsuits against one defendant. However, this rule could potentially preclude certain heirs from filing their own lawsuit and collecting their portion of the award or settlement. For this reason, California requires plaintiffs to include all of the known heirs in the lawsuit. California imposes a strict statute of limitations for wrongful death claims which is typically two years from the time of the decedent’s death, so heirs should not delay in filing their claim.
The heirs may recover a variety of damages from a wrongful death claim. These damages may include compensation for medical expenses related to the accident, burial expenses, funeral expenses, damages for loss of earnings, loss of support, loss of services, loss of love, comfort and companionship and other damages that are provided by California law. The damages may vary per each heir. For example, a minor child may be able to request damages for loss of support while a sister probably would not be able to request it.
If you lost a loved one due to a wrongful death and you believe that you have the legal right to bring forth a claim, contact an experienced San Francisco wrongful death lawyer to schedule a free consultation. The Elite Lawyer Project SF wrongful death lawyer assists victims of most types of personal injury throughout all of Northern California.