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Who can sue for wrongful death in California?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Personal Injury

Life has its share of difficult and traumatic events, and a loved one’s death is one of these. If a loved one’s death is attributable to another person’s negligence, the law permits you to sue for the resulting damages.

Wrongful death can be caused by doctor negligence or a fatal car crash among other things. Depending on the circumstances, the defendant may also face criminal charges.

So, who can sue for wrongful death in the Golden State?

A loved one’s wrongful death will no doubt impact several people. However, not everyone can bring a wrongful death claim. Per California wrongful death laws, the following people can bring a claim following a loved one’s wrongful death:

  • The victim’s surviving spouse, children or domestic partner
  • Putative spouse, their children and stepchildren if they financially depended on the decedent
  • An unrelated minor who, at the time of the decedent’s death, resided with them for at least 180 days and was dependent on them for at least 50 percent of support.

If none of these is available, then anyone entitled to the decedent’s estate by way of intestate division (like parents or siblings) may bring a claim.

The time limit for bringing a wrongful death claim

Even if you have a compelling case against the defendant, your claim can be refused if you do not act within the statute of limitations. In California, you have up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death to bring the claim. The statute of limitations is even shorter when you are suing a government agency. In this case, you have six months to file what is known as an “administrative claim.” It’s important that you do not let these important timelines run out.

A loved one’s sudden demise can shake you to the core. The pain becomes unbearable if the death in question is preventable. Find out how legal advice can help you safeguard your rights and interests during these difficult times.