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Wrongful death claims are required to be filed by the representative of the victim who passed away due to wrongful death. In California, under Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, there are several individuals who are permitted to partake in filing a wrongful death claim. This includes: 

  • Immediate family members. This involves children, adopted children, significant others, and parents who have children that are not married. They have the authority to get compensation for damages done due to a wrongful death action. 
  • Significant other or financial dependents. This involves domestic or life partners that were financially dependent on the deceased victim. They are given the right to compensation for recovery purposes. 
  • Individuals financially suffering as a result of death. This involves those who have been negatively affected by the wrongful death resulting in lost care or support. These individuals are related by blood or marriage to the deceased victim. 
  • Distant family members. This involves relatives and grandparents.
  • Parents of a deceased fetus. If medical negligence is proven as the cause of a fetus passing away, the parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Who To Sue For Wrongful Death?

There could be a variety of individuals involved when it comes to a wrongful death case. Basically, any individual that is the cause of another’s wrongful death can be sued. 

Examples are:

  • An individual who is at fault in a motor vehicle collision. 
  • A road construction worker who was responsible for constructing a faulty roadway resulting in the death of another individual. 
  • A manufacturer that was at fault for making a defective vehicle, product, and so on. 
  • Government agencies failing to have warning signs up for road hazards. 
  • An individual who sold alcohol to someone underage or already impaired. Overconsumption could result in death. Additionally, it may also cause a car accident if the individual drinking the alcohol decides to drive in that state. 


Damages may be distributed depending on whose losses they are compensating. It could be either the surviving family or the estate. Losses given to the estate include:

  • Medical bills,
  • Funeral and burial costs,
  • Hospital expenses, or 
  • Lost income.

Losses provided to the surviving family are:

  • Loss of financial support,
  • Loss of community, guidance, love, and attention, or 
  • The value of services the deceased victim gave. 

When to File a Lawsuit

In California, it is a requirement to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the initial date of the incident. Exceeding the maximum time period will result in the deceased victim’s family losing their rights to file a case. 

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award is known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact, were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations For Damages In California 

For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

Contact Us

If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death due to another individual’s negligent acts, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled wrongful death attorneys that have extensive experience in handling cases relating to personal injury. Our attorneys will help you recover financial and emotional compensation for the losses you have suffered on behalf of your loved one. This may include, but is not limited to, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are charged until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected] 


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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