Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit?

According to California law a civil suit filed by certain parties — usually a son, daughter, wife or husband of the decedent — is the only place a wrongful death lawsuit can take place. Wrongful death is a financial way to compensate someone for their loss. If a criminal case is going on as the result of someone dying, it will usually be called a manslaughter case.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit? Man in black attire and sunglasses consoling his wife

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by someone standing in the place of the person who was killed. The deceased person cannot represent themselves, and so a “representative” is allowed to bring the lawsuit in their place. Who can be a representative in California when someone is killed? Here are some guidelines:

  • The family members of the deceased: This means the spouse, children, life partner, or any person who was dependent on the person killed. These are the closest family members, and if any of them exist, they have the right to bring the case first.
  • Parents: If the person who was killed has no spouse and no kids, then the parents of the deceased can be the representatives for the lawsuit.

Other representatives: The rules of who can file a wrongful death suit are located in the California Civil Jury Instructions, a set of instructions that are regularly called CACI.


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