Only certain family members are allowed to sue for the death of a loved one. Under California law, the following are allowed to sue:

  • Victim’s spouse – Always
  • Victim’s registered domestic partner – Always
  • Victim’s parents – But if the victim was married, only when the victim left no children, or when the parents were finanically dependant on the victim
  • Victim’s stepchildren – Only when the stepchildren were financially dependant on the victim
  • Victim’s children – Always
  • Victim’s adopted children – Always
  • Unrelated children in victim’s care – Only if the child lived with the victim for the 180 days before the victim’s death and was financially dependant on the victim.
  • Victim’s brothers & sisters – Only when the victim left no other relatives with a right to sue.  

The following can never sue

  • Victim’s unregistered domestic partner
  • Victim’s ex spouse, even when dependant on the victim
  • The victim’s “common-law” spouse