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California Wrongful Death Claims: The Basics

A wrongful death claim is a type of lawsuit filed by the heirs of a person killed by the negligence or intentional act of another. Wrongful death claims can arise out of a variety of situations including traffic accidents, harmful products, workplace injuries, and intentional injuries such as shootings.

Under the California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60, a wrongful death claim can be asserted by a variety of people, including:

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children and grandchildren
  • Other heirs who “would have been entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”
  • Dependents, including stepchildren and parents

The elements of a wrongful death action generally mirror those of torts (civil wrong) cases, such as negligence and resulting death. There are a variety of damages available to plaintiffs in wrongful death cases, including loss of love and support.

Although filing a wrongful death claim cannot bring back a loved one, many clients pursue wrongful death claims in order to send a strong message against whoever caused the death and to prevent others from being harmed by that person or entity