Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Information for Surviving Family Members

Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Information for Surviving Family Members

If you recently lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent actions or intentional harm, no amount of compensation can make up for the great loss you have suffered. However, in the aftermath, you might experience financial hardship and are in need of relief. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members could be awarded damages, depending on their relationship with the deceased.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a person dies, regardless if the death was caused by negligence or through intentional actions, a civil action can be brought to court by the survivors or the personal representative of the deceased. If successful, a wrongful death lawsuit would result in monetary damages that would be awarded to the surviving family members, unlike a criminal case, which would be brought by the state and penalized by jail or prison time, among other possible methods. In California, a wrongful death claim can be brought to court even if a criminal case is in progress.

Can Anyone File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Not all surviving family members are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. The state allows the following parties to bring a wrongful death claim to court:

  • The surviving spouse of the decedent
  • The surviving domestic partner of the decedent
  • The surviving children of the decedent
  • If the decedent does not have any surviving family members, a wrongful death lawsuit could be brought by an individual who is entitled to the property, such as the parents or siblings of the decedent

If the following individuals can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased individual, they could also bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court in California:

  • The decedent’s putative spouse and children of the putative spouse
  • The decedent’s stepchildren

Available Damages for Surviving Family Members in a Wrongful Death Claim

Many of the damages that are available in personal injury claims are also available to surviving family members in wrongful death claims. If the claim is successful, the awarded damages are usually divided amongst the surviving family members for personal losses they suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Some of the awardable damages include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Any medical or hospital bills the decedent incurred as a result of his or her final illness or injury
  • Lost income, such as potential income the decedent would have expected to earn in the future had it not been for his or her death
  • The value of household services
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of love, affection, moral support, and guidance

The Statute of Limitations

Every state has what is known as a statute of limitations, during which a claim must be filed. If you miss out on this important deadline, the court will more than likely deny hearing your claim. In the state of California, surviving family members must file a wrongful death claim within two years, beginning on the date of the decedent’s passing. Consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss out on your chance to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

Wrongful Death Attorneys in San Jose

If you recently suffered the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or intentionally harmful actions, you are likely enduring some serious hardships as a result of this untimely death. At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, our compassionate San Jose legal team will help guide you through the process of a wrongful death lawsuit and help you obtain just compensation.

For the skilled and caring representation you need during this difficult time, contact our law firm today at (800) 900-0863 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team. If we cannot win your case, you will not owe us any legal fees.