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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

Unfortunately, highway construction zone accidents are a serious problem. According to the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration, approximately 60,000 people are injured in construction accidents in the United States every year.

There is nothing more devastating or traumatizing than losing a loved one in a preventable accident. Under California state law (California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60), close family members of the deceased have the right to seek justice and financial support through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Unfortunately, not every loved one of the victims can file such a claim. California restricts wrongful death eligibility to certain parties. Here, our San Francisco wrongful death attorneys provide an overview of who can file a wrongful death claim in California.

California Wrongful Death Claims: Eligibility

Only certain parties are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. Under the relevant state statute, the following parties may have the right to bring a claim after losing a loved one in an accident:

  1. The surviving spouse;
  2. Children;
  3. Parents or;
  4. The next-of-kin of the victim.

As a general rule, the surviving spouse and children have the first right to bring a wrongful death claim. If there is no spouse or no children who are willing or able to bring the claim, then the next-of-kin in California’s intestate line of succession will have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In addition to that, any party that was financially dependent on the deceased may also have the right to bring a claim. Sorting out wrongful death eligibility in California can be complicated. If you have any specific questions or concerns about your rights, an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help.

What Types of Damages are Available through a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Sadly, even when liability is clear, defendants and insurance companies often make it challenging for families to recover full and fair wrongful death compensation. At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our San Francisco, CA wrongful death lawyers have the experience necessary to help our clients recover the maximum available financial compensation. Through a wrongful death claim, damages may be available for:

  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • Funeral and burial costs;
  • Direct economic losses, including loss of insurance coverage; and
  • Loss of love, consortium, affection, and companionship.

Wrongful death claims are especially challenging because a substantial part of the compensation will likely be in the form of ‘non-economic’ damages. There is no defined standard for calculating the value of loss of love or loss of companionship. As the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions explains, jurors reviewing wrongful death claims must use “judgement” and “common sense” in crafting a reasonable award. An experienced attorney can help you and your family obtain the maximum wrongful death compensation.

Get Help From Our Bay Area Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our top-rated San Francisco wrongful death attorneys are compassionate, effective advocates for our clients. If you lost a loved one in an accident, we are here to help. Our law firm will handle all aspects of your legal claim, while you focus on yourself and your family. For a free, strictly confidential initial consultation, please ​contact us right away. From our office location in San Francisco, we serve communities throughout Northern California.

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