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Who Is Allowed to Recover Compensation After Wrongful Death?

The feelings following the loss of a loved one can take all those affected on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. These feelings are heightened even further when the cause of the death was someone else’s negligence and they are attempting to deny liability.

While legal assistance is probably the last thing on your mind after losing a loved one, it’s often required to help recover some of the losses and to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. Before starting the process it’s important to know who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of California.

Who Is Eligible to File a Claim?

Following the death of a loved one, only certain individuals are eligible to file a lawsuit for their losses. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 specifically lists these individuals as well as others who are dependent on the decedent as proper plaintiffs. This includes the following:

  • Spouse: The surviving spouse may seek compensation for the loss of financial or household support as well as emotional losses experienced as a result of the death. The emotional loss includes a claimant’s loss of love, companionship, assistance, protection, affection and moral support.
  • Surviving children: The surviving children have claims for loss of financial support, as well as the resulting loss of love, training, guidance, companionship, assistance, protection, affection and moral support.
  • Domestic partner: A domestic partner has the same rights as a spouse in California.
  • Dependents – Minors, parents, step children and certain other people have a right to bring a claim for wrongful death so long as they were dependent upon the decedent.
  • The estate of the decedent: A survival action is similar to a wrongful death suit, but it is usually brought by the representative of an estate for losses incurred during extended hospitalizations. It can also be used to help secure punitive damages awards, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. After major losses, the deceased party may incur large medical bills as well as a large wage loss during an extended hospitalization. To relieve the estate from having to pay the debt, and to collect the loss in earnings incurred during the hospitalization or subsequent disability, a survival action can be brought against the responsible party.

Get the Legal Help You Need

Knowing who may be eligible to file a wrongful death or survival claim requires a thorough understanding of the law and the statutes associated with these cases. This means having skilled legal counsel to help you navigate the entire process.

At Caputo & Van Der Walde, our San Jose wrongful death lawyers are committed to helping families who have experienced a wrongful death navigate through this difficult process – we are caring, compassion, and dedicated to you and your family every step of the way.