Wrongful death is a claim against a person who can be held liable for a death. The claim is brought in a civil action, usually by close relatives, as enumerated by statute. Under common law, a dead person cannot bring a suit, and this created a loophole in which activities that resulted in a person’s injury would result in civil sanction but activities that resulted in a person’s death would not. In California, the people entitled to bring a claim are generally those who would be entitled to inherit from the deceased in the absence of a will, as well as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
Wrongful death lawsuit in California can be filed by:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s domestic partner if the domestic partnership was registered
- The deceased’s living children
- The children of any child of the deceased if that child is no longer living
- If the deceased had no surviving children, siblings or other relatives who would have inherited from the deceased if the deceased had died without a will
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