One of the greatest tragedies in life is when people die before their time. What makes it worse, sometimes, is when the death is precipitated or not prevented by persons or organizations who could and should have done something to preserve the person’s life. In these cases, survivors of the deceased person may bring what is called a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.
What is a wrongful death claim?
At its most basic, a wrongful death claim is a legal movement in response to the death of a person as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful act. This can include fatal motor vehicle accidents, on the job accidents due to failure to provide proper security, use of defective products, animal attacks, and more.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
In California, the law allows for only certain survivors to put forward wrongful death suits. By order of priority, the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, dependent minors living in the household for six months or more, and dependent parents are allowed by California law to pursue wrongful death claims.
In other areas, wrongful death claimants can include the domestic partner, anyone who is entitled to the person’s property, or anyone who can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased, including grandparents, parents, siblings, stepchildren, etc.
What kind of damages are usually awarded in a wrongful death claim?
Damages are usually given to compensate for losses associated with the death, or to compensate family members for the personal losses they suffered. These losses include income, funeral and medical expenses, anticipated financial support, value of household services, and more.
Even in wrongful death cases in which the deceased had no income, compensation can still be applied for on the basis of loss of love, society, companionship, parenting guidance, and moral support, emotional distress of survivors witnessing the fatal incident, or out of pocket expenses associated with the death.
How long is the statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim?
According to California law, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the person’s date of death, or the family will likely lose the right to file. So if you are trying to decide whether or not to file a wrongful death claim, remember to keep in mind that time is of the essence.
Filing a wrongful death claim is not merely a matter of revenge against the responsible party, or compensation for financial loss, but a way for survivors of the deceased person to receive psychological closure and much needed support following the loss of their loved one.