A wrongful death claim allows surviving spouses and registered domestic partners, as well as certain family members, to recover compensation on behalf of a loved one who was killed because of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice. A wrongful death claim entitles surviving family members to recover monetary compensation for losses they would have enjoyed had the aggrieved person not lost his or her life.
Typically, all surviving family members must join together to file a claim. According to California’s one action rule, the guilty individual cannot be sued more than once by multiple people.
Below, our experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys will discuss California’s wrongful death one action rule. If you have lost a spouse or registered domestic partner, West Coast Trial Lawyers is always here to answer any questions you may have about wrongful death claims and available damages you may be entitled to.
In short, California’s one action rule basically states that any individuals who want to file a wrongful death claim for damages must include everyone who counts as an heir to join together and file one claim. Any damages will then be given to the family and they will have to figure out the best way of dividing up the damages amongst themselves. Typically, families can figure this out for themselves, but if there are issues or disagreements with dividing up damages, a court can intervene and decide how to best divide the settlement amount.
It is not the responsibility of the guilty individual(s) to contact and coordinate a claim with all known heirs. Whoever decides to bring a wrongful death claim against the guilty party must take care of this responsibility for themselves. However, just because the claimants cannot locate all known heirs does not mean the wrongful death claim will not go through. These individuals may still be entitled to appropriate compensation.
On the other hand, there may be issues when qualified heirs have been inadvertently excluded because these individuals have a right to being compensated, as well. Any excluded individuals will then have to take legal action against the other claimants, and not against the guilty individual in order to recover damages entitled to them.
Finally, if the claim is being filed by a representative of the decedent, and not an actual family member, the requirement for the inclusion of all valid claimants is waived. Furthermore, if a defendant was aware that a valid claimant was not part of the wrongful death claim, the one action rule will not apply. In that case, a plaintiff may go ahead and file a wrongful death claim against the defendant.
If you have lost a loved one due to negligent actions committed by another party, our expert team of Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for damages you have suffered. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.