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Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim If I Am Under 18?

Wrongful Death

In California, children of deceased parents can file a wrongful death claim under specific conditions. For them to have standing, the death(s) must have been caused by the negligence of another party. In addition, the child must be eligible to receive compensation. At Salamati Law, we understand that no amount of money can ease your heartache. However, a financial award will allow you to cover expenses and offer the opportunity to rebuild your life. Contact us for a free consultation.

When Can a Child File a Wrongful Death Claim?

For a minor to file a wrongful death claim, the death must have been due to negligence. Essentially, this means that a third party’s reckless actions directly lead to the death of their parent. For example, a drunk driver striking and killing a pedestrian or running a stop sign at a busy intersection. In these cases, the surviving family can seek compensation. However, only certain family members can pursue this. In California, these individuals–in order of succession–include:

  • Spouse/domestic partner
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings

If only one parent has died, the minor will not have standing to file a wrongful death claim. However, if the victim was not married at the time of their death, the child can file for wrongful death compensation. It’s essential to note that the child has standing to file a wrongful death suit if both parents were killed due to negligence by a third party.

However, if the child is under 18 in California, they may not pursue legal action themselves. Instead, they must have a legal guardian – assigned through the deceased’s will or a court decision – to act as their legal representative. This person, called guardian ad litem, protects the child’s interests, while a trust is created for any settlement proceeds. In addition, the guardian ad litem may also receive compensation to help cover the costs of caring for the child.

If the child and their guardian ad litem win their wrongful death claim, they will not immediately receive their damages. In many cases, there will be other claimants. For instance, this might include medical bills and the cost of the funeral.

What types of compensation are available?

After these expenses are paid out, the child may be awarded compensation for the following:

  • Financial Support. These damages compensate the child for losing the financial support of their parents.
  • Domestic support. Domestic support is compensation for childcare and household services.
  • Emotional support. Non-economic damages are commonly the most sizable portion of a child’s wrongful death compensation. They are intended to help the minor’s quality of life, including the loss of guidance, support, and grief management.  

The compensation for these damages will be placed in a trust for the child to access when they turn 18. These trusts often accrue interest, meaning the total sum they receive when they turn 18 may be higher than the amount awarded at the time of the case.

Seek Wrongful Death Compensation with Salamati Law

If you believe you are eligible to seek wrongful death compensation for the death of a parent, recruiting the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney can help improve your odds of receiving compensation.

At Salamati Law, we specialize in California wrongful death settlements and have delivered favorable results to many clients. Contact us today for a free consultation. In addition, we work on a contingency basis, so there are no upfront legal fees.

No Obligation, No Fees Guaranteed, Unless We Win

We are committed to negotiate your case aggressively, strategically and creatively. Personal injury lawsuits are retained on a contingency fee agreement, and plaintiffs will pay no legal fees unless the firm is able to recover damages on your behalf.

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