Whenever the negligent or wrongful actions of a driver lead to a car accident in which another person involved dies, the victim’s surviving family members may be able to hold the driver liable for damages by filing a wrongful death claim. According to the state’s Code of Civil Procedure, section 377.60 to section 377.62, those eligible to file the claim include the victim’s surviving spouse, domestic partner or any children.

In the event the decedent was divorced, those who were dependent on the victim may file for the claim and seek to include the putative spouse, their children, any stepchildren or their parents. A minor may also be eligible to file the claim if the minor lived with the parent for at least 180 days prior to that parent’s death and that parent provided the minor at least half of his or her support.

The major purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is so that the decedent’s surviving family members may be compensated for their losses. Compensation in such cases usually includes a monetary award to cover medical costs, funeral expenses, loss of future household income and property damage. Based on the particular circumstances of individual cases, the courts may award the decedent’s surviving relations noneconomic damages, such as loss of companionship.

Grieving family members who have suffered the loss of a loved one in a traffic accident may wish to consult a California attorney who is experienced in personal injury claims and who could explain the family’s legal options. In a wrongful death claim, the attorney might use official documentation as evidence in the case. These can include police reports, witness accounts and records demonstrating the family’s economic damages, such as medical reports and records of expenses.