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By John Kristensen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Wrongful Death on Thursday, March 8, 2018.
Things You Did Not Know About Wrongful Death Laws in California

Although California wrongful death laws can be easily accessed via the Internet, there are quite a few things that are not immediately clear to those pursuing compensation for the death of their loved one.

We brought our Los Angeles wrongful death attorney to outline a few things in state laws a typical claimant in California is not aware of. Let’s start with the basics: who can sue the party responsible for the death of a family member?

You can file a lawsuit only jointly

One distinctive characteristic of wrongful death laws in California is that all possible claimants seeking damages must be joined in a single wrongful death lawsuit.

This means there can not be more than one legal action against the same responsible party. Our best wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles explain that this particular requirement falls under California’s “one action rule.” The purpose of the rule is that the party that is being accused of killing or causing the death of another person does not have to juggle multiple lawsuits simultaneously.

Also, this allows to minimize the risk of inconsistent legal outcomes and court decisions. For example, a family member suing the responsible party with the help of a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer may win the case, while his/her relative, who chose not to be legally represented, fails to establish all elements of his claim to prove the responsible party’s liability.

Under California’s “one action rule” in wrongful death cases, a claimant has a mandatory duty to include all known heirs in the lawsuit. Naming all possible heirs in a wrongful death lawsuit presents a claimant with a plethora of challenges, which is why it is highly advised to seek legal advice from an attorney.

Death of an unborn child or suicide do not qualify

Not all cases of death entitle family members of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim. Under California’s wrongful death laws, people are barred from filing a lawsuit over the death of an unborn child or fetus. Our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer explains that the California Supreme Court does not recognize an unborn child or fetus as a “person within the meaning of the state’s wrongful death statute.”

In cases when victims die from a justifiable homicide it is legally impossible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party that killed or caused the death of the victim. Our attorneys at the Kristensen LLP say that, for example, if the deceased was killed while committing a crime, his or her family would most likely not be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages.

Similarly, suicides are typically not actionable under California’s wrongful death laws. However, if the family members of the deceased can prove that the responsible party owed a duty of care to the deceased and that his or her negligence or recklessness was a significant factor in causing the suicide, then the death may be compensable.

Whatever is the case, it is highly advised to speak to a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney in order to find out whether or not you and your family members are entitled to compensation. Do not jump to conclusions just because you read something on the Internet.

Schedule a free consultation with our lawyers at the Kristensen LLP by contacting our Los Angeles offices today. Call at 310-984-1297 or complete this contact form for a free case evaluation.