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California Wrongful Death Law

Wrongful Death

The wrongful death of a family member can feel debilitating, scary, and stressful. The comfort of your loved one is gone and so is their financial and emotional support.

However, in your case fits the criteria for wrongful death under California law, you may be entitled to compensation.

The California wrongful death law, (under Civil Code of Procedure 377.60,) allows particular family members of the deceased to collect damages in the case that the deceased passed due to someone else’s wrongful actions.

This law is similar to that of action taken due to “loss of consortium,” which is an action taken when a spouse or legal domestic partner is left without the intimacy, companionship, and livelihood of a partner who is still living, but unable to provide those features due to someone else’s wrongful act.

In case of a wrongful death action, the surviving family can request to have damages recovered. These damages can include funeral expenses, income the deceased would have provided the surviving, and compensation for loss of companionship to the surviving.

Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death Under California Law?

The wrongful death law allows particular family members to bring forth a lawsuit. These family members include:

  • Living spouse
  • Legal domestic partner
  • Children of the deceased
  • Grandchildren (Only in the case of the deceased’s children also being deceased.)
  • Stepchildren and other minor children who relied on the deceased for more than 50 percent of their financial support
  • Any others who would be entitled to the deceased’s property

What Kind of Act Qualifies as a Wrongful Act?

If a claim can be made on the grounds of gross negligence, negligence, recklessness, or an intentional wrongful act, then a suit can be filed.

Some wrongful acts that cause death include car crashes, DUI accidents, drowning, elder abuse or neglect, assault and battery, murder or manslaughter, child abuse or neglect, medical malpractice, and slip and fall accidents.

Families can also sue for “strict liability” under California law if the deceased was killed by a dog bite, mauled to death by a dog, or killed by a defective product within the state of California. These apply even if the defendant was not being negligent.

What Can Be Recovered?

Damages recovered by heirs are meant to replace the value of the support they would have expected from the deceased if they had not been killed.

These compensations can include economic and non-economic compensation.

Economic and Non-Economic Compensation

Economic damages under California law include, but are not limited to, financial support expected by the surviving from the deceased, loss of benefits or gifts from the deceased expected by the surviving, and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages under California law include, but are not limited to, compensation for the deceased’s companionship, protection, society, affection, moral support, guidance and mentorship, and sexual relations.

Non-economic damages cannot be included as the survivor’s grief, pain, or sorrow, under California state law.

A jury will decide upon the value of the non-economic damages brought by a wrongful death lawsuit.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Under California law, the surviving have two years to file a lawsuit against the wrongdoer.

The two year period begins at the date of the deceased’s death and ends on that day exactly two years later.

Working with a professional during your wrongful death lawsuit can provide solace and expertise in your time of both grief and need, and help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Let the professionals at KJT LAW GROUP help. Call us at (818) 507-8525 or email us at for a free consultation.





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