Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney / Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim? / Wrongful Death Blog

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, Michael P. Ehline Esq.

Suppose a family member or close relative has died due to negligence, or another wrongful or unlawful action. In that case, you could be eligible to file a wrongful death suit against the responsible party. These types of claims typically gain rightful compensation for both financial and non-financial losses or damages incurred due to the death of the family member.

  • A Personal Injury Lawyer from the Ehline Law Firm Can Assist With Your Wrongful Death Case
  • What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
  • What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
  • Past Laws Governing Wrongful Death Claims
  • Current Laws Governing Wrongful Death Claims
  • What If the Deceased Did Not Have a Will?
  • California Has a “One-Action Rule”
  • Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California?
  • Contact Ehline Law Firm

To determine if you are eligible to make such a claim, it is essential first to understand what a wrongful death lawsuit claim is and how it works.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed when an individual dies because of another person’s negligence or intentional action. These claims allow the deceased’s estate or family members to take legal action against the person or organization legally liable for the dead individual’s death.

Laws governing wrongful death cases vary from state to state. However, they are often separate from a criminal lawsuit taken against a perpetrator.

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death can result in any situation where another party’s carelessness or negligence led to the death of an innocent individual.

If your loved one died due to an unexpected, unforeseen injury that no one could have predicted, assigning liability or blame in a wrongful death claim may be challenging.

However, if a family member died due to faulty equipment at their place of work, the employer may be liable for failing to take precautions to protect their employees.

The important thing to remember is that a decedent’s legal representative may only file wrongful death lawsuits if the victim had no part in their own death or if their death was the result of an unpredictable accident rather than a wrongful act by a third party.

Past Laws Governing Wrongful Death Claims

Previously, an individual was not able to file a civil lawsuit for the death of another. The offender of a wrongful death could face prison or other penalties under criminal law.

Any chances of compensation died with the victim. This means that the family of the deceased could not sue the party at fault for financial or non-financial damages as a result of the death.

Current Laws Governing Wrongful Death Claims

All states in America now have laws that overrule the cruelty of the old laws that essentially left a perpetrator more well-off financially than the family of the deceased.

The current wrongful death statute allows a representative of the deceased, or their estate, to sue the perpetrator for civil damages. These damages include financial losses incurred and non-financial losses such as the emotional and mental anguish they may have faced as a result of the loss of their loved one.

What If the Deceased Did Not Have a Will?

Determining who can file a wrongful death lawsuit depends on whether the deceased left a will. If a person dies without a will, a personal representative or executor typically administers the estate. According to laws in most states, if a court assigns an estate a personal representative or executor, then that person has the sole authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit on the deceased’s behalf.

California Has a “One-Action Rule”

A single wrongful death claim must include all potential claimants. There can only be one wrongful death lawsuit filed against the party responsible. This is according to California’s “one-action rule.” The primary goal of this rule is to keep the guilty party from defending multiple lawsuits.

Another goal is to prevent inconsistencies in outcomes. As a result, a claimant not participating in a wrongful death lawsuit may not file a separate lawsuit against the guilty party.

Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California?

The deceased person’s immediate family may file a lawsuit for a decedent’s wrongful death. This includes:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse
  • Children of the deceased
  • A domestic partner
  • The issue of deceased children
  • Putative spouse

Suppose the decedent has no surviving issue, the person or people entitled to the deceased’s assets or property as determined by the court for those who have not left a will.

When a married deceased person dies without children and leaves behind a surviving spouse, the surviving parents and spouse each receive half of the deceased’s separate property. Distant family members may not pursue legal action for a victim’s death.

Contact Ehline Law Firm

If one of your immediate family members has died due to another’s actions, you should seek legal advice from Ehline Law. Contact us for a free consultation to bring a wrongful death suit against the party at fault.

Proving a wrongful death claim on your own is hard work. Without a reasonable doubt, you must prove that the decedent’s death was the result of the accused’s actions. At Ehline Law, we can help make this process as smooth as possible, so you need not suffer additional emotional trauma while taking wrongful death action.

We ensure that your sensitive or confidential information is safe and take pride in maintaining an excellent attorney-client relationship. Ehline Law has experienced and aggressive Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys, so you can rest assured that you are in good hands.

Michael Ehline


Michael Ehline in Tuxedo

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his JD from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. He compassionately helps clients recover after serious injuries.

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Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 596-9642
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