How to File a California Wrongful Death Suit
When someone dies because of the fault of another person or company, the survivors may bring a wrongful death lawsuit to collect for their losses arising out of the death...
Steps to filing a wrongful death suit
First, surviving family members need to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who will be able to lead them through the entire lawsuit process.
Second, the surviving family member needs to determine if they still have time to file a lawsuit. According to California law, you have two years to file a suit against a person or business and one year to file against a public entity.
Third, a surviving family member must prove that he or she is a member of the class that can file the wrongful death suit. According to California law, the deceased's surviving spouse, children, issue of deceased children, official domestic partner, dependent putative spouse, dependant stepchildren, dependent minors and dependent parents may initiate a wrongful death suit. If none exist, then claimants for wrongful death are those who would collect under the law of intestate succession. The wrongful death victim's personal representative can also file a wrongful death suit.
Fourth, the surviving family member needs to prove that the victim's death was the result of another's negligence, recklessness or deliberate act.
Fifth, the surviving family members need to show that the death affects them and caused them monetary damage. The claimants may be able to show loss of financial support, gifts and other benefits. Other types of damages that may be proven include loss of the decedent's love, companionship, enjoyment of sexual relations and moral and parental support.
Sixth, since a wrongful death suit is a civil action, the surviving family members must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the other person or company wrongfully caused the death of their loved one. In California, 9 out of 12 jurors must find in favor of the plaintiff.