A wrongful death claim occurs when someone dies due to the negligence or wrongful act of another individual or entity, and it is considered a civil lawsuit. Every state has its own set of statutes that explain who can file such a claim, how much time they have to do it, and the kind of damages a person can claim. Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim, so it is important to have a keen understanding of your state’s statutes.


In the state of California, certain survivors of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim. Individuals who are allowed to file a wrongful death suit include:

  • A surviving spouse
  • A surviving domestic partner
  • Surviving children

If none of these apply, the decedent’s parents or siblings may also file the wrongful death claim. Additionally, any person who can prove they were financially dependent upon the decedent, such as stepchildren or a putative spouse, may also file.

However, while any one of these parties may qualify, no more than one suit may be brought against the responsible party. If more than one individual would like to file a wrongful death claim, they will have to file jointly, or they may be barred from filing at all.


Anyone who would like to file a wrongful death claim must follow the statute of limitations, which is typically two years from the date of death. If it is a medical malpractice case, claimants must file within three years, starting from the date of injury or one year after discovering the injury that resulted in the decedent’s death.

Skilled Counsel. Proven Results. Call (408) 883-3863

At Shea & Shea – A Professional Law Corporation, we focus on the most severe accident cases and have successfully handled many wrongful death claims. When we choose to represent a case, we commit ourselves to fighting for the compensation you deserve. We work on a contingency fee basis, so if we do not win your case, you owe us nothing.

Contact us today and schedule a free consultation.

Categories: Wrongful Death

Related Posts: What is a Wrongful Death Claim and How to File it? Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?

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