Providing wrongful death defense counsel to businesses and insureds involved in pre-litigation and litigation matters
In California, a wrongful death defense can be successful to defeat a claim brought by a family member or beneficiary of a decedent if it is not brought to court directly by the survivors of the deceased person, or by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, and fault is not expressed solely in terms of money damages. Only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California as stated in California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60, et seq.
377.60. A cause of action for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another may be asserted by any of the following persons or by the decedent’s personal representative on
(a) The decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and issue of deceased children, or, if there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the persons, including the surviving spouse or
domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.
(b) Whether or not qualified under subdivision (a), if they were dependent on the decedent, the putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, or parents. As used in this subdivision, “putative spouse” means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid.
(c) A minor, whether or not qualified under subdivision (a) or (b), if, at the time of the decedent’s death, the minor resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent’s household and was dependent
on the decedent for one-half or more of the minor’s support.
(d) This section applies to any cause of action arising on or after January 1, 1993.
(e) The addition of this section by Chapter 178 of the Statutes of 1992 was not intended to adversely affect the standing of any party having standing under prior law, and the standing of parties governed
by that version of this section as added by Chapter 178 of the Statutes of 1992 shall be the same as specified herein as amended by Chapter 563 of the Statutes of 1996.
(f) (1) For the purpose of this section, “domestic partner” means a person who, at the time of the decedent’s death, was the domestic partner of the decedent in a registered domestic partnership
established in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 297 of the Family Code.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), for a death occurring prior to January 1, 2002, a person may maintain a cause of action pursuant to this section as a domestic partner of the decedent by establishing the factors listed in paragraphs (1) to (6), inclusive, of subdivision (b) of Section 297 of the Family Code, as it read pursuant to Section 3 of Chapter 893 of the Statutes of 2001, prior
to its becoming inoperative on January 1, 2005.
(3) The amendments made to this subdivision during the 2003-04 Regular Session of the Legislature are not intended to revive any cause of action that has been fully and finally adjudicated by the courts, or that has been settled, or as to which the applicable limitations period has run.
377.61. In an action under this article, damages may be awarded that, under all the circumstances of the case, may be just, but may not include damages recoverable under Section 377.34. The court shall
determine the respective rights in an award of the persons entitled to assert the cause of action.
377.62. (a) An action under Section 377.30 may be joined with an action under Section 377.60 arising out of the same wrongful act or neglect.(b) An action under Section 377.60 and an action under Section
377.31 arising out of the same wrongful act or neglect may be consolidated for trial as provided in Section 1048.
Why Hire Ghantous Law Corporation?
With over 20 years of litigation experience, we can provide solid and accurate counsel in the interpretation of rights and legal obligations of any dispute as they occur, and by retaining counsel before litigation commences, you can more likely ensure the successfully defense or the avoidance of costly litigation entirely. We have successfully defeated these types of claims by presenting a strong wrongful death defense and by filing motions that end the case before they get to the discovery phase.
Often times wrongful death defense claims can trigger the duty to defend found in a homeowner’s or commercial general liability policy. We regularly represent insureds who have successfully tendered the cost of the defense to their insurers or indemnitors and know what carriers need to make a proper coverage determination. As exception counsel for the top business insurers in the United States, we comply with all individual litigation management guidelines required by these insurers so that there is no interruption to a proactive defense of the lawsuit while the firm attempts to shift the cost of the defense to someone other than you.