Suffering the loss of a loved one to wrongful death is a terrible tragedy. Often, the family does not know how to proceed or what they have the right to claim.
In California, you have certain rights and limitations when pursuing damages for wrongful death. If you recently experienced the life-changing loss of someone in your family, see below for some important facts you need to know.
Understand the One Action Rule
Under California law, only one party can file a suit against the defendant. Known as the “One Action Rule,” this means that any individual who does not join with the initial lawsuit is not eligible for compensation. If you are an heir to someone who suffered a wrongful death, it is your responsibility to include any other known heirs. Heirs who intentionally omit a known heir can face responsibility for their payment. Claimants do not have to use the same legal representation, but they need inclusion in the same lawsuit.
Who can receive compensation?
California CCP 377.60 says that spouses, domestic partners, children, and anyone who has the right to the decedent’s property can sue for wrongful death. If the decedent’s children previously died, the grandchildren can sue, and if stepchildren depended on the deceased for at least 50 percent of their financial needs, they could also file a claim.
Consulting with an attorney should be your first step towards financial recovery after a wrongful death. If you do not organize your case properly and exclude an heir, you risk hurting your case. Losing the financial breadwinner of your family is hard enough, do not let your family lose the ability to support itself too.