Can Same-sex Partners Sue for Wrongful Death Action in California?

Home » Can Same-sex Partners Sue for Wrongful Death Action in California?
November 05, 2014
Edward Smith

The answer is yes. In California, only certain people have the right to sue for wrongful death when a spouse or other close family member is killed through the wrongful act or negligence of another. In 2002, the legislature amended the wrongful death statute to include a decedent’s surviving “domestic partner” to the list of individuals entitled to sue for wrongful death. This hasn’t always been the case, though.

One of the landmark cases that helped transform the wrongful death statute was decided by San Francisco Judge A. James Robertson II when he ruled in a fatal dog attack lawsuit filed by the victim’s partner that a wrongful death suit could go to trial. Plaintiff Sharon Smith filed a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of her life partner, Diane Whipple, who was killed by two dogs in the hallway of her apartment after returning home with two bags of groceries.

Under California law, Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 identifies the parties who can bring a wrongful death case. These include:

  • decedent’s surviving spouse and children
  • domestic partner
  • parents
  • surviving siblings
  • grandparents or lineal descendants

The list does not end here. Other parties have a right to bring a wrongful death claim, so it is essential to contact only an experienced wrongful death attorney at The Edward A. Smith Law Offices to find out if you have a claim.

Often, multiple surviving family members are involved in a single wrongful death case. One of the first issues that must be decided is how any damages awarded in the case will be divided.

This area of law is very complex. Edward A. Smith has been handling Wrongful Death cases for over 30 years. If you or someone close to you have suffered the loss of a loved one, it is essential to consult with an experienced and supportive Sacramento wrongful death attorney about your case. Contact Edward A. Smith at 916-921-6400 or for a free consultation or any questions. If you are out of town, call our toll-free number 1-800-404-5400. Our office can be found on Yelp.