Losing a family member or loved one is never easy. If the death of your love one was caused by the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of a third party it can be even harder to accept the loss. Understandably, the thought of pursuing legal action shortly after losing a loved one may not sound very appealing; however, you may be entitled to compensation that can lessen the financial hardship the loss may have caused you and your family. In addition, pursuing a wrongful death claim will ultimately hold the negligent party responsible for causing, or contributing to, the death of your loved one.
In San Diego, if a death is caused by a wrongful act or negligence it may be a wrongful death in the eyes of the law. To recover damages in a wrongful death case you must prove that the defendant’s wrongful or negligent acts or omissions were the cause of, or were a contributing factor in, the death of the victim. Before you get to that part, however, you need to determine if you are entitled to file a wrongful death claim in San Diego. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 sets forth the requirements for a wrongful death lawsuit as well as dictates who can file. According to Section 377.60, the following individuals may file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s domestic partner
- Children of the decedent
- Issue of deceased children
- If there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.
- Putative spouse is he/she was dependent on the decedent
- Children of the putative spouse if they were dependent on the decedent
- Stepchildren if they were dependent on the decedent
- Parents if they were dependent on the decedent
- A minor, if, at the time of the decedent’s death, the minor resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent’s household and was dependent on the decedent for one-half or more of the minor’s support. An example might include a foster child.
Notice the law presumes that a spouse, domestic partner, child, or grandchild was dependent on the decedent; however, other claimants must prove that they were dependent on the decedent in order to be entitled to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although it may be difficult to think about litigation during a time of great loss and grief, keep in mind that the law limits the amount of time a claimant has to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Furthermore, key pieces of evidence could be lost or destroyed if too much time passes, making it harder to prove the defendant’s culpability in the death of your loved one.
Getting Legal Help with Wrongful Death Claim in San Diego
If you are concerned that someone’s negligence or wrongful conduct played a role in the death of a loved one, consult with an experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options.