When someone is killed in an airplane or helicopter accident, California’s wrongful death law allows only certain members of the victim’s family to obtain monetary compensation from those who are responsible. The family members who are entitled to compensation are:
- The victim’s Spouse or registered Domestic Partner
- The victim’s Parents – but not where the victim left children, unless the parents were financially dependent on the victim
- The victim’s Children, including Adopted Children
- The victim’s Stepchildren – but only if they were financially dependent on the victim
- Unrelated children in the victim’s care – If the child lived with and was financially dependent on the victim for the 180 days before the victim’s death
- The victim’s Brothers & Sisters – but only when the victim left no other relatives with a right to sue.
Many aviation accidents occur over navigable waters. When that happens, maritime law may apply and the rules can be slightly different. For example, parents may be entitled to compensation for the loss of their son or daughter, even though the son or daughter was married with children, and though the parents were not financially dependent on him or her.