Losing a loved one to the negligence of another person is a horrible situation. The law provides you with the ability to seek damages from the responsible party. However, it depends on your relationship with the deceased and other relationships he or she had. There is a hierarchy of who may make claims under the law.
California Legislative Information explains that the first person who has a right to seek damages in a wrongful death lawsuit is the spouse or partner. Next in line are the person’s children. If a child is dead, then his or her children are next in line. If there is no surviving spouse, children or grandchildren, the rights for damages extend to whoever would be in line according to estate law.
Some possible other heirs include any minor child the deceased took care of financially at the time he or she died. The child must have lived with the person for at least 180 days before the death and got at least half of his or her support from the person.
Parents of the deceased may also have a right to damages if there are no other heirs. Parents usually gain the right in the event of the death of a minor child. In addition, stepchildren may be able to make a claim if there is no spouse, children or grandchildren.
You do not have to take the case to court yourself. This is a trying time, and you may not feel up to dealing with a court case. You can instead choose to have a personal representative go to court for you.