Wrongful Death FAQs

Who Can Recover for the Wrongful Death of a Loved One?

In California, persons who may recover for wrongful death include the surviving children, and/or legal spouse or registered domestic partner of the person who has passed away. If there are no surviving children, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren can also recover. In the case where there are no direct descendents living (children, grandchildren, etc), then other extended family members who would inherit the Decedent’s estate if the person died without a will may also recover damages for wrongful death. Please see Cal. Civil Code section 377.60 that describes others, including dependents of the Decedent and minors living with the Decedent, who may potentially recover for the wrongful death of a loved one.

Because the right of recovery to spouses is limited to legally married spouses or registered domestic partners, if you are in a committed opposite-sex or same-sex relationship, it is important to be aware that you cannot recover for the death of your loved one unless you are legally married in the State of California or you legally register as domestic partners with the California Secretary of State.