Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Claims in California

Common causes of wrongful death include traffic accidents, defective products, dangerous premises, medical malpractice, and criminal attacks. In these cases, wrongful death claims can be filed by the following individuals:

  • The decedent’s spouse or domestic partner
  • The decedent’s children
  • The decedent’s grandchildren of any deceased child

Absent any of the above, the claim can be filed by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” This means that inheritance laws would be applied as they are in a probated estate in which the decedent died without a will. 

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

Damages are designed to compensate surviving families for the reasonable value of the support that the decedent would have been expected to provide if he or she had not been killed. 

These damages can include:

  • Reasonable value for the loss of companionship, affection, protection, guidance, and sexual relations
  • The financial support that the decedent would have provided 
  • Value for the household services that the decedent would have provided
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of benefits or gifts that the survivors would have been given by the decedent if he or she had lived

These damages may be paid in a lump sum or over time in structured payments. 

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