Proving a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The latest, most cutting edge legal information available on the most devastating tort claim known. Discussed by California Lawyer, Michael P. Ehline, Esq. If You Need More Info, Call Toll Free Call at 888.400.9721.

Knowing Each Element Will Aid in Success & Winning the Injury Claim

A wrongful death is defined as: The death of a close family member, or life partner covered under a “civil union” under state law. (Read More Here.) When the passing occurs of a loved one, there is no doubt that it is a dark tragedy, and affects everyone in the family. When a wrongful death occurs, often the situation is made even worse, as the family and dependent loved ones are suddenly left without a provider. However, the family has the right to file a claim against the negligent party (the defendant) to reclaim losses due to the death of their loved one (the decedent).

Who Can Tell Me if the Death Meets the Legal Elements of a Viable Injury Claim? A wrongful death attorney should be hired to properly and successfully handle the wrongful death case. The good news is that experienced legal help is available at Ehline Law Firm PC; however, it is important for the survivors themselves to understand the basic elements of a wrongful death suit, which in a nutshell, are: (1) A death of a person caused by; (2) The negligence; or wilful intent of another, that causes one or all of these: (3) Loss of love, affection (aka emotional support), financial support, physical support, such as yard-work, doing dishes, etc., both past, present and future.

Element One

Was the Passing Caused By Negligence or an Intentional Act? The first element to be proven in court, is that the death “was caused by a negligent or wrongful act, rather than another cause?”


For example, a family cannot sue a doctor or hospital if their loved one dies from cancer; only if there has been a wrongful act or negligence in the situation. Furthermore, your lawyer must be able show that the death was due to the actual defendant (or the agents thereof) against whom the claim is made. [There may be other defendants who caused the cancer, such as an asbestos manufacturer.]

Element Two

    Was the Expiration or “Termination of Life” Caused By a Negligent or Intentional Act?

The next element is really two sub elements, with the same outcome; that is whether (a) Negligence, or (b) A Willful Act, caused the death. Example: A willful act would include shooting someone in the head at point blank, whereas negligent act would be rear ending someone while you are busy talking on your cell phone (This could also be a “Reckless Act” depending upon the given facts.)


Element Three:

Was a Loss Suffered by the Survivor?

One would think this is easy to prove, but you would be surprised to see how many families have estranged relationships, where they would recover more in “intestate succession“, than in a lawsuit! Losses are things like:

  • Loss of love: And this includes things like sex, and just the love loss itself;
  • Financial Support: This is usually the big factor. How much did your loved one provide? Was he or she a doctor, or a lawyer, or a garbage collector? Was he or she contributing to an education fund for the survivors, etc? Physical support also has a financial value. So if your husband provided house work, etc., chores, then now you will have to pay someone, or take time away from your job, to do that. Understood? And yes, you are entitled to seek money for the past, present and future.

Additional More Detailed Requirements Under CA Law:

Your injury claim must filed within the two year time limit in the state of California, unless it is limited by statute or the Government Code, for example. The court will want the facts and the evidence that the negligent party was strictly accountable for the death. Obviously, the deceased victim will have had to have left behind a family that is able to file the survivors’ claim legally, such as parents, a spouse, children or stepchildren and in some cases grandparents and life partners covered under civil unions. Children, if minors, will have the lawsuit filed by a parent or guardian ad litem (learn more here.) As discussed above, proof of monetary damages will need to be proven in court.

Pursuing Your Claim

In order to pursue a wrongful death suit, one must prove that the decedent’s survivors are suffering financially from the loss. The claim is generally made by the executor/executrix of the estate of the decedent on behalf of all other parties. The other parties can include the spouse, the children, other immediate or dependent loved ones or family such as parents or siblings, or beneficiaries. It must then be proven to the court that the parties mentioned are suffering losses that can be given monetary value. Some examples include medical, funeral, and burial costs, loss of a supporting income in the family, the loss of a potential inheritance, or the loss of a caretaker.

Why Choose Us?

We offer the “Ehline Difference.” We return phone calls and, a real attorney, not a secretary, returns that call. The wrongful death lawyer at Ehline Law Firm PC, will be important in proving to the court, without doubt, that all of the elements of a wrongful death suit are met for the success of the survivors of the decedent.