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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

By Sean Burke on August 25, 2015

Little girl kneeling at a graveIf your loved one passed away in a tragic accident, your first response is obviously one of shock and grief. However, if the death was the result of someone else’s negligence or reckless action, you may also desire justice and closure for your family. A wrongful death can also create a significant financial burden. Funeral costs, medical bills, and lost wages can be nearly overwhelming for your already shattered family. If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit, you may wonder if you are an eligible plaintiff. At the Law Offices of Sean M. Burke, we provide compassionate legal representation. Through a sensitive and understanding evaluation, we will decide whether you have a valid claim. If applicable, we will then fight for the money you deserve. To learn more about who can file a wrongful death suit, contact our Orange County practice today.

Understanding Wrongful Death

Wrongful deaths may occur under a number of conditions. They may be the result of:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premises liability
  • Workplace accidents
  • Defective products

Can You Sue for Your Loved One’s Death?

Not all tragic fatalities qualify as wrongful death. Your loss must have resulted from another party’s reckless or irresponsible actions. In addition, you must be suffering financial damage because of your loved one’s death. In California, a surviving spouse has the first right to sue. If there is no surviving spouse, children and grandchildren can file a lawsuit. If both parents are deceased, a child’s legal guardian can wage a lawsuit on his or her behalf. In some cases, step-children may be able to sue, as can putative spouses and children.

Can You Sue for the Death of a Child?

The loss of a child is one of the most tragic circumstances imaginable. If there is no spouse or adult children, you may have the right to sue. You can also open a lawsuit if you were financially dependent on your child. Unfortunately, you may not have a valid claim if your child was financially dependent on you. In some states, parents can sue for the wrongful death of their unborn children. However, in California, these laws do not apply.

Damages that May Be Awarded

You may wonder why the state is so particular when it comes to waging lawsuits. Wrongful death suits are intended to help grieving families recoup their tangible financial losses. Thus, plaintiffs must be able to show how they were impacted by the deaths of their loved ones. Courts can then award damages to cover:

  • Lost wages
  • Future earnings, insurance, and other provisions made for dependents
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral costs and medical bills
  • Intangible costs, such as childcare by a non-working parent

Contact the Law Offices of Sean M. Burke

If you are mourning the wrongful death of a loved one, you deserve compassionate and committed legal representation. Attorney Burke will evaluate your case with respect and discretion. If you have a viable lawsuit, he will fight for your rightful damages. In this way, you can focus on healing and opening up a new chapter in your life. Contact us today for a case evaluation.

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