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Who can bring a wrongful death claim?

When the negligence of another person leaves a Los Angeles resident dead, many people, sometimes hundreds, are affected negatively. The deceased will have lots of relatives, friends and other colleagues who will probably miss the person profoundly, and many of them may have even counted on the person for some sort of support.

This does not mean, however, that anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. California law is actually quite specific about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and the idea behind the law seems to be that those who relied financially upon the victim should be the ones able to claim compensation for a tragic loss. Likewise, the law also gives priority to those who would inherit property from the victim.

For example, a person's legal spouse or, in some cases, a "putative" spouse, generally will have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Likewise, the victim's surviving children can file a claim, as well as the victim's grandchildren if a child has died. If there are no surviving children or grandchildren, then anyone who would stand to inherit property from the victim under California's intestate laws would be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.

Interestingly, California law also gives a child who was dependent on the victim at the time of the victim's death the right to file a lawsuit. The law deems a child dependent on the victim if the victim housed the child and provided one-half or more of the child's financial subsistence.

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