Wrongful Death

What is a Wrongful Death action?

Unfortunately, all too frequently the victims of elder or dependent adult abuse do not survive the abusive care. This forces the loving family members, like the abused elders, to suffer. If your loved one was taken from you by the abusive or negligent care of another, the law provides a remedy in the form of a case for “Wrongful Death” for the benefit of those family members who must live with the tragedy. A Wrongful Death action is very different from the action allowed by law for the victim of elder or dependent adult abuse because a wrongful death action belongs directly to the surviving heirs.

Who can sue for Wrongful Death?

California law outlines who can sue for wrongful death. The rules sometimes are complicated, which is why you should have a knowledgeable professional on your side. But generally speaking, the following categories are entitled to file a wrongful death case:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse or registered domestic partner;
  • Any children of the deceased;
  • Any children of a deceased child of the deceased elder, which would include grandchildren in some circumstances;
  • Parents or stepchildren if they were financially dependent on the decedent;
  • In some cases, a minor who lived with the deceased for 180 days immediately before death and who was dependent on the deceased for half or more of the minor’s support; or
  • Other family members, such as siblings, nieces and nephews if there is no surviving spouse or children.

What remedies are available in Wrongful Death cases?

While a wrongful death action can never replace the loss of a loved one, it does provide the family members with financial compensation in the form of money damages for the loss of the care, comfort and society of the deceased. It also may provide compensation for:

  • Loss of income or a wage earning potential of the deceased loved one;
  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Medical or mental health expenses caused by the death; and
  • Loss of earnings caused directly by the death.