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In its simplest form, wrongful death is defined as the death of an individual arising from the negligence or wrongful act of another. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that can be filed against a person or a business alleged to be responsible for causing a wrongful death.

Examples:

  • Assault resulting in death
  • Negligent or careless conduct resulting in death
  • Design or manufacture of a defective product resulting in death
  • Medical malpractice resulting in death

Who can bring a wrongful death case?

Every state’s laws differ slightly as to who is able to bring a wrongful death case, but in general, the right is afforded to family members or individuals who depended on the deceased for at least half of their financial support.

In California, the following individuals can make a wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving Spouse
  • Surviving Domestic Partner
  • Children of the deceased
  • Putative Spouse
  • A Minor – if that minor had legally resided in the decedents home for 180 days and was dependent on the decedent for at least half of their support
  • The decedents personal representative on behalf of those authorized to bring the suit

How long does an individual have to bring a wrongful death suit?

The time a plaintiff has to bring a wrongful death suit is determined by two key factors: the Discovery Rule and the Statute of Limitations.

The Statute of Limitations puts a limit on the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a wrongful death suit. Every state differs, but it is generally two to three years, so it is very important that appropriate action is taken in a timely manner.

The Discovery Rule is a law that affects the Statute of Limitations with regard to wrongful death suits. Consider a situation in which an unknown injury caused the death of an individual. Years later, the injury was discovered to be the cause of the individual’s death, but the amount of time set forth by the Statute of Limitations had already run out. The Discovery Rule exists to protect plaintiffs in this type of scenario, and ensures they have adequate time to file a case. The Statute of Limitations would generally begin the day the injury / accident occurred, but if the court determines that the Discovery Rule need be applied, the Statute of Limitations will begin at the time the injury was discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered.

Speak With Our Personal Injury Attorneys About Your Wrongful Death Claim

Contact our Sacramento personal injury attorneys to discuss your injury concerns. We offer a free initial consultation where you can get honest answers to your questions and learn more about your rights in these matters. Please call (916) 357-6767 or send us an email to schedule an appointment.

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