What You Need to Know about Wrongful Death Lawsuits

by | Mar 20, 2023

Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult and painful experience. The pain and suffering can be even greater when that loss is due to someone else’s negligence. If you are in this situation, you may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

However, navigating the legal system can be quite challenging, and it’s essential to understand the laws surrounding wrongful death lawsuits in California clearly. In this article, Santa Rosa Personal Injury Lawyer shares what you need to know about wrongful death lawsuits in California:

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

This is a legal action against a person, company, or entity that caused someone’s death due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional harm.

These lawsuits are intended to provide financial compensation to the deceased person’s surviving family members for the damages they have suffered due to the death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

In California, only certain individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the deceased person’s:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren (if the deceased person’s children are also deceased)
  • Parents (if the deceased person had no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren)
  • Siblings (if the deceased person had no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents)

It’s important to note that stepchildren, foster children, and other individuals financially dependent on the deceased person may also be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The damages that one can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit vary depending on the circumstances of the case. In general, surviving family members can seek compensation for the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses related to the deceased person’s final illness or injury
  • Lost income and future earnings the deceased person would have earned if they had not died
  • Loss of companionship, love, and emotional support
  • Pain and suffering the deceased person experienced before their death
  • Punitive damages (in certain cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious)

It would be best if you worked with an experienced wrongful death attorney to determine the damages that may be recoverable in your particular case.

What Is California’s Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In the state of California, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for wrongful death is two years from the deceased person’s death date. If you fail to file your wrongful death lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death, you may lose your right to seek compensation.

However, there may be certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if the wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended to three years from the date of injury or one year from the date of discovery, whichever is earlier. It’s important to consult with an attorney to understand your case’s specific statute of limitations.

What Should You Do If You’re Considering Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you are thinking of filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you must take specific steps to protect your rights and ensure you have the best possible chance of success. These include:

  • Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can give you advice on your legal options and help you navigate the legal system
  • Gathering evidence, including witness statements, police reports, and medical records, to support your case
  • Keeping careful records of any expenses related to the death, such as medical bills, funeral costs, and lost income
  • Avoiding discussions with insurance companies or other parties without first consulting with your attorney


Wrongful death lawsuits can be truly complex and emotionally challenging. However, with the 

right legal guidance and support, you can seek the compensation you deserve for your loss. If you’re considering filing a lawsuit, be sure to consult with an experienced Santa Rosa wrongful death lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

Santa Rosa Personal Injury Lawyer can provide you with the legal services you need for the wrongful death lawsuit you plan to file. Set an initial consultation with our Santa Rosa wrongful death lawyer today.

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