Wronful Death

Wrongful death causes of action are for each heir of a person who dies as a result of a wrongful act or negligence of another.  This cause of action is set forth in California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60, which allows each heir to recover monetary damages on his or her own behalf for the loss suffered due to the decedent’s death.

Normally in California, the lawful heirs are the decedent’s surviving spouse and children, however other family members, such as the decedent’s parents or siblings may also have claims as heirs in a wrongful death case, under a few circumstances, including if they can show financial dependence on the decedent.  All of the possible claimants must be joined together in a single wrongful death case, also known as the one action rule. 

Under a wrongful death claim, the heirs can ask for compensation due to loss of support, loss of services, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship and sexual cohabitation.  As a general rule, a jury will award an undivided lump sum award to the heirs, regardless of ow many persons are making a claim as an heir.  The monetary award will be divided either by agreement, or if the heirs cannot agree, by the court in whatever way it deems most fair.

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