After losing a loved one in an accident, you may choose to consult an accident attorney about your legal rights and options. If your loved one’s death can be attributed to the neglectful or reckless actions of another party, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against that person. As your attorney can explain to you, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, which is not the same as criminal charges such as manslaughter. An attorney in Tracy or Manteca can evaluate your case and your relationship to the decedent. The rules regarding which individuals may be eligible to pursue a wrongful death case vary from state to state.
Family Members and Partners
Your attorney may file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf if you are an immediate family member of the decedent. Under California law, this is defined as the decedent’s surviving spouse and surviving children. The decedent’s domestic partner may also file a wrongful death lawsuit. These individuals essentially have the first right to file a wrongful death claim. If there are no surviving individuals in the decedent’s line of descent, then other individuals may be eligible to bring a claim.
Extended Family Members
Assuming that the first category of individuals is no longer living, the state of California allows extended family members to file a claim. Specifically, these include any individuals who would be beneficiaries of the decedent’s property in accordance with the state of California’s laws of intestate succession. This category would typically include the surviving parents of the decedent or the decedent’s surviving siblings.
Even if you do not fit into either of the above categories, you can still consult an attorney if you lost a loved one because of the actions of another person. You may be eligible to bring a claim against the responsible party if you can prove that you were a financial dependent of the decedent. This may apply if you were the decedent’s putative spouse or child of a putative spouse. Other financial dependents may include the decedent’s stepchildren and parents.