Is Your Loved One a Victim of a Wrongful Death Case? Here are People Who Have Standing to File Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Is Your Loved One a Victim of a Wrongful Death Case? Here are People Who Have Standing to File Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In California, the individuals who have standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit are generally limited to the following parties:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse or domestic partner.
  • The surviving children of the deceased
  • The surviving parents, if the deceased has no surviving spouse or children
  • The next of kin will be entitled to the deceased’s property by intestate succession if there is no surviving direct family member, such as children, a spouse, or parents.

In some cases, such as when the deceased person is a minor or a dependent adult, a court-appointed representative or guardian may be able to file the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person’s estate.

It is important to note that the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California is generally two years from the date of the person’s death, so it is important to act quickly if you believe you may have a wrongful death claim.

However, before filing a wrongful death lawsuit, there are other things you need to consider first.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Death in California?

In California, wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a death caused by neglect or a wrongful act of another person or entity. Here are some examples of actions that may qualify as wrongful death:

  1. Medical malpractice: If a healthcare provider fails to provide proper medical treatment, makes a mistake during a medical procedure, or fails to diagnose a condition, resulting in the patient’s death.
  2. Car accidents: If a person’s death is caused by a driver’s negligence, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or distracted driving.
  3. Product liability: If a defective or dangerous product, such as a defective car part or a faulty medical device, causes a person’s death.
  4. Premises liability: If a person’s death is caused by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, such as a slip-and-fall accident or a dog attack.
  5. Criminal activity: If the criminal act of another person, such as murder or manslaughter, causes a person’s death.

In the case of wrongful death because of criminal activity, such as homicide or murder, you may file a wrongful death lawsuit on the same person. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim that seeks compensation for the losses suffered by the deceased person’s family, while criminal charges for homicide are brought by the state and seek to punish the person for their actions. 

In California, a criminal trial and a civil lawsuit can proceed simultaneously, although the civil case is usually stayed (i.e. put on hold) until the criminal case ends. In the case of a criminal trial, the burden of proof is higher than in a civil suit, requiring the prosecution to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In a civil lawsuit, the burden of proof is lower, requiring the plaintiff to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.

It is crucial to note that a criminal conviction for homicide does not necessarily guarantee success in a wrongful death lawsuit, as the burden of proof and standard of evidence differ in each case. However, a criminal conviction can be used as evidence in a civil lawsuit and may strengthen the plaintiff’s claim.

Steps That You Should Take if You Suspect Losing Your Loved One in a Wrongful Death Case

Losing a loved one due to wrongful death is a traumatic experience, and knowing what steps to take in the aftermath can be overwhelming. Here are some general steps to consider if you find yourself in this situation in California:

  1. Seek medical attention for yourself and others if necessary: If the death occurred due to an accident, it’s essential to ensure that injured parties receive immediate medical attention, such as therapy to cope with the loss.
  2. Contact law enforcement: If you suspect the death was due to a crime, such as homicide or manslaughter, contact law enforcement immediately.
  3. Obtain a death certificate: You’ll need a death certificate to initiate any legal proceedings. Typically, this can be obtained from the county where the death occurred.
  4. Consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney: An attorney experienced in filing wrongful death claims can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the legal process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
  5. Gather evidence: Collecting any evidence related to the incident that caused the wrongful death can help build a strong case. Gathering evidence may include police reports, witness statements, photographs, medical records, and any other relevant documents.
  6. Notify relevant parties: Notify any insurance companies involved and the executor of the deceased’s estate.
  7. Initiate legal proceedings: Your attorney will work with you to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate. This process involves gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and potentially going to trial. 

It’s essential to take immediate action when a loved one is the wrongful death victim. By working with a knowledgeable attorney and following these steps, you can help ensure that justice is served and that you receive compensation for any damages you may have suffered due to your loss.

Let JSM Injury Firm APC Provide You with an Experienced Anaheim Wrongful Death Lawyer


An Anaheim Wrongful Death Lawyer is crucial when a loved one dies because of another party’s negligence or intentional actions. The attorney can help the surviving family members pursue a wrongful death claim and seek compensation for the damages suffered due to the death. The damages can include financial losses, such as medical bills and funeral expenses, as well as emotional pain and suffering. In California, wrongful death claims can be complex and require legal expertise to navigate the legal system. Let our Anaheim Wrongful Death Lawyer help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and bring closure to the family. To learn more about wrongful death cases or if you seek free legal advice for a possible wrongful death case, call (949) 404-4826 or fill out the form on our contact page.