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
- 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;
- 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.