Can same-sex partner sue for wrongful death action in California?

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, 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 help 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 victims 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, was killed by two dogs in the hallway of her apartment after returning home with two bags of groceries. See more info about this case here.

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. There are other parties that have a right to bring a wrongful death claim as well, so it is extremely important to contact only an experienced wrongful death attorney at The Edward A Smith Law Offices to find out if you have a claim.

Oftentimes, there are multiple surviving family members 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 important to consult with an experienced and supportive Sacramento wrongful death attorney about your case. Contact Edward A Smith at 916-921-6400, for a free consultation or with any questions you may have. If you are out of town, call our toll free number 1-800-404-5400. Our office can be found on yelp.

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