The last thing you expect to ever have to face in your life is to receive the news that a close family member has died due to the negligence of another.
The news can be devastating and it can also bring another slew of problems if the person who died was the breadwinner in the family or played another important role which will now leave survivors unprotected financially or emotionally.
In these situations, working with a compassionate wrongful death lawyer can help you understand how to hold the other party accountable for their actions and who can sue for wrongful death in California.
What Is Wrongful Death?
According to CCP § 377.60 of California law, wrongful death is defined as “the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” In wrongful death cases, there are no criminal charges, and the proceedings are carried out in civil court.
Although negligence is an important part, in some cases you can have a wrongful death case because the person intentionally killed someone.
It is up to you to prove that the other party was more likely than not responsible for the death of your loved one. There are a number of ways to do this such as through malpractice, recklessness, defective manufacturing, and others.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
Either family members or anyone who has been designated as a representative of the estate have the right to sue for wrongful death in California. When surviving families are large, it is important to understand who may sue for wrongful death according to California law.
Here is a list of who has a right to sue in these cases:
- Surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
- Surviving heirs of deceased children
- Stepchildren or any other minor who relied on the deceased for at least half of their financial support
- Anyone else who would have inherited the property of the deceased through California law
Sadly, even after such a tragic event, families do not always agree on the best way to proceed and there might be disputes and disagreements as to who the person who sues should be. It may take the legal guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney to untangle this complicated decision and hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
What If More Than One Party Sues?
If there is no way to get everyone in the family to agree as to who should sue, there may be multiple parties attempting to sue. If so, it is important to know that this is not legally allowed.
This can make it difficult to designate the person who should sue. Once the family finally agrees on who should lead the lawsuit, the compensation may be split among all interested parties through a prearranged agreement once the claim is settled.
What Evidence Is Needed for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a civil claim, such as a wrongful death lawsuit, you only need to show that the other party is likely responsible for the death. However, evidence is needed to show that negligence existed.
To prove it, you may include:
- Photographs from the scene of the accident
- Surveillance videos
- Criminal records
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Witness testimonies
- Testimonies from experts
An experienced lawyer can help you prove that you are owed compensation.