Schedule Your Free
(916) 778-3228

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in California?

cross tombstone

If your loved one was killed because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for this inaction or action. In the state of California, a wrongful death claim can be filed if your loved one died because of another individual’s wrongful act or negligence. Today, we go over wrongful death cases and who can file one in California.

Only certain individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state. The law allows the following parties to do so:

  • Deceased person's surviving spouse
  • Deceased person's domestic partner
  • Deceased person' s surviving child or children

What happens if there is no surviving individual in the deceased’s line of descent? In this case, anyone who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This may include the deceased’s parents and/or siblings.

The following individuals may also bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California if they can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased:

  • Deceased person’s putative spouse and children
  • Deceased person’s stepchildren
  • Deceased person’s parents

What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?

There are various personal injury damages that are available in a wrongful death claim. You could be compensated for losses attributed to the deceased’s estate, which include funeral expenses, medical and hospital bills, and lost income. Losses that are attributed to the surviving family members may include the value of household services, loss of financial support, and the loss of community, love, moral support, and guidance.

How Can You Prove a Wrongful Death Case?

For a defendant to be found guilty in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff will need to meet the same types of burden of proof required of the victim if he/she was still alive. There are four factors that are considered:


You must prove that your loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s carelessness, recklessness, and/or negligent actions.

Breach of duty

The plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant owed a duty to the victim. The plaintiff must be able to show how this was breached because of the defendant’s negligent actions.


The plaintiff will also be required to prove how the wrongful act caused the death of their loved one.


To prove a wrongful death case, the deceased must have accrued damages before death such as the cost of hospitalization, medical expenses, burial costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims must be filed within 2 years of the date of the deceased’s death. If not, you could lose your right to file this claim.

Do you need to file a wrongful death claim? Contact our office online or call us at (916) 778-3228 to consult with a lawyer from our firm.

Related Posts
  • Why You Shouldn't Apologize After an Accident Read More
  • Common New Year’s Personal Injury Accidents Read More
  • Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases Read More