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When should I file a wrongful death lawsuit in California?

If you have lost a loved one and believe the death was the result of negligence, you may want to explore the option of filing a lawsuit in California. According to the state statute, any of the following people may file a wrongful death claim:

  •        Immediate family members including parents and children
  •        A surviving spouse or domestic partner
  •        Stepchildren
  •        Any minor who resided in the decedent's home for at least 180 days prior to the death and was dependent on the decedent

Such a claim can arise from a variety of incidents ranging from car accidents to medical malpractice. While you certainly want to take the time to grieve, you should be aware that under California law, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim seeking damages for your loved one's death. However, if you are planning on suing a government agency, the suit must be filed within six months.

In order to present a strong case, you must be able to demonstrate that the defendant's negligence caused the death of your loved one, either partly or entirely. For example, if the cause of death was a drunk driving accident, you may be able to sue not only the driver of the vehicle, but possibly the store that sold the driver alcohol, especially if the driver is a minor.

To collect damages, you will need to show the financial and emotional impact the loss of your loved one has caused. These damages could include medical expenses, funeral costs, a loss of income and emotional distress.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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