You may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one has died because of someone else’s negligent or unlawful actions.
Whether the death resulted from homicide, vehicle accident, medical error or slip and fall, there are essential details to understand about these lawsuits.
1. There are time limits for filing a lawsuit
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit must happen within two years of the death, according to California’s statute of limitations. The only exception is for medical malpractice, which has an extended deadline of three years.
2. Only certain people can file a wrongful death lawsuit
According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, there are restrictions on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Plaintiffs must be close relatives such as a child, spouse, guardian or parent.
3. Proving wrongful death must meet specific qualifications
While losing a loved one affects many close family members, not all deaths are wrongful. Deaths must meet the state’s requirements of negligence.
- Causation – Evidence must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions directly caused the decedent’s death, even if unintentional
- Breach of Duty – The plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty of care to the decedent and the plaintiff ignored that obligation
- Damages – The loss of a loved one must cause legal damages to the plaintiff, such as medical and funeral expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit gives families a recourse when their loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence.