If you lost a loved one in an accident, you may wonder if you can file a lawsuit seeking damages. Under California law, only certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding the laws that pertain to your case is an important step when seeking compensation. An experienced California wrongful death lawyer can help you make sense of the law after the tragic death of a loved one.
Filing a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60, specific family members can seek to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Those family members include:
- Surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
- Dependent family members
In California, all possible claimants must join together in one single wrongful death lawsuit. This is California’s “one action rule.” The purpose of this is to avoid simultaneous and multiple lawsuits with multiple defenses. The one action rule also seeks to avoid inconsistent results that often occur when there is more than one lawsuit pending after a wrongful death.
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California, all heirs must include all known heirs in the lawsuit. This is the duty of the heirs who file the wrongful death case. To avoid mistakes during the filing process, it is important to notify your California wrongful death attorney of all possible heirs to the estate. This would include spouses, parents, children, siblings and any dependent family members.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In the state of California, several different statutes of limitations apply depending on the cause of the death and the status of the defendant. It is VERY important to contact a California wrongful death attorney as soon as you can to determine what type of claim it is and to ensure that all time requirements are met, so as to not lose your rights.
Furthermore, valuable evidence is often lost or destroyed quickly after a wrongful death. For this reason, it is important to retain the services of an experienced California wrongful death lawyer immediately.
Our office can also help the surviving family members deal with the transfer of the deceased person’s assets and interpreting or handling a Will or Trust that the decedent may have prepared prior to death.