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What You Need to Know About Wrongful Death in California

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death cause of action is fully described under California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) Section 377.60. This procedure sets forth how heirs of a deceased person can pursue a wrongful death claim as the result of a wrongful act or negligence on the part of another party, parties, or entity.

Wrongful Death Heirs

The law in California allows heirs to seek monetary damages in a wrongful death claim. Each heir who meets the requirements of the code section qualifies for losses resulting from the death of a loved one (decedent). No persons other than those identified in CCP Section 377.60 have the right to pursue a claim for wrongful death.

Defendants in Wrongful Death Claims

A person who commits a wrongful act or is negligent may be held responsible for the death of another under California law. In order to prove a wrongful death claim, the heir(s) must prove the defendant’s actions were a significant factor or probable cause of the decedent’s death. Medical malpractice cases provide good examples of where a defendant may not hold enough responsibility for a claim to be considered actionable.

If a claim involves a medical professional committing a wrongful act, an heir may consider bringing a claim of wrongful death. However, if the decedent had a less than 50 percent chance of survival before the fact, there is a mathematical improbability the death was caused by wrongful act.

There are numerous examples of wrongful death claims, which are complex in nature. If you have lost a loved one and suspect the wrong actions or neglect on the part of another are the cause, it is important to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer in California.

Exemptions from Wrongful Death

An unborn child is considered a fetus and is not regarded as person until a live birth. Therefore, the death of an unborn child is not actionable as a wrongful death case. Similarly, justifiable homicide is not actionable as wrongful death in the state of California. Under California Penal Code Sect. 197, an heir may not bring an actionable wrongful death case. An example of California Penal Code Sect. 197 coming into play would include cases where the decedent was killed while committing a felony.

Parties to Wrongful Death

If there are multiple claimants in pursuing a claim for wrongful death, they must come together in a joint suit under the California “one action rule.” This rule is designed to ensure the responsible party is not fighting multiple law suits. Any heirs who do file suit are obligated to include all other heirs joining in the suit.

Wrongful Death Lawyer in California

Losing a loved one is devastating and is made worse when there is a chance another party was responsible for the death. Maison Law can help you seek monetary damages for your losses by guiding you through the complexities of filing a suit.

Reach out to Maison Law in California today if you need a lawyer who will represent you with understanding and compassion.