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What is Wrongful Death?

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The loss of a loved one is never easy, but when that death comes unexpectedly in an accident it can be devastating for family members. When a loved one’s death has been caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another, the family may have a claim in California for wrongful death. At the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz, we understand the emotional and financial difficulty that often comes after an unexpected, accidental death, and we are here to help ease the burden with legal advice on your wrongful death action. To learn more, call or contact our office today to schedule a free case consultation.

Wrongful Death Defined

Under California law, wrongful death is defined as when a person dies as the result of a wrongful act or omission by another person or entity. Another way to think of wrongful death is that but for the victim’s passing, they would have been able to file a lawsuit for personal injury. However, because they can no longer file a claim for damages themselves, their loved ones do so on their behalf.

A wrongful death claim is different from criminal charges for manslaughter or homicide, which may occur separately depending on the circumstances of the case but are not required in order to file a lawsuit for wrongful death, which takes place in civil court. However, criminal charges and a conviction are extremely compelling evidence in a case for wrongful death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a victim. In California, the law allows for the following relations to file a claim:

  • The victim’s surviving spouse,
  • The victim’s domestic partner,
  • The victim’s surviving children,
  • If none of the above exist, then anyone who is entitled to inherit from the victim’s estate by intestate succession may file, which includes surviving parents, siblings, and other dependents, or
  • Anyone that can show a financial dependence to the victim.

Damages for Wrongful Death

Damages in a wrongful death case are similar to those in a personal injury claim but are split into two categories: damages that benefit the estate and damages that benefit the surviving family members. Compensation for the estate includes any final medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and lost income and benefits that the victim would have otherwise earned during their lifetime. Compensation for surviving family members includes damages for the loss of household services, loss of anticipated financial support, and the loss of the victim’s love, support, community, affection, and guidance.

Call or Contact Our Office Now

Money can never make up for the loss of a loved one, but it can help ease the financial burdens that often arise after an unexpected passing. To learn more about your legal options for filing a wrongful death claim in California, call the office or contact us today at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz in Pasadena to schedule a free evaluation of your claim.

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