Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifies as wrongful death?

Under California law, certain family members — known as survivors — can bring a wrongful death claim if a loved one dies due to the negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongful act of another person or entity. A wrongful death may include:

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Drowning
  • Assault and battery
  • Elder abuse or neglect
  • Medical malpractice
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Murder or manslaughter

In addition, if a person died after being injured by a dangerous or defective product, their survivors can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Similarly, if an individual dies from a dog bit or mauling, their survivors can pursue a wrongful death claim.

California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 allows only specified family members to file a claim for wrongful death. This includes:

  • Surviving spouses;
  • Domestic partners;
  • Children;
  • Grandchildren (if the deceased person’s children are also deceased);
  • Other minor children, such as stepchildren, who were dependent on the deceased person for at least 50% of their financial support;
  • Parents, if they were dependent on the deceased person; and
  • Anyone else who would be entitled to the deceased person’s property under California’s laws of intestate succession (how property passes when a person dies without a will).

These survivors — or their personal representatives — are permitted to file a lawsuit for wrongful death under California law.

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