Liability of Business for Wrongful Death

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the death of the individual must be caused by the negligence or tortuous act of another. For cases of death due to the crime committed by third parties, those who have a special relationship with the victim may be liable under certain circumstances.

Businesses, for example, have a duty to protect their customers or any person within their premises, from the criminal acts of third parties. Such duty may depend on the situation, but at the very least, it must undertake reasonable and minimally burdensome measures to assist customers and invitees who face danger from imminent or ongoing criminal conduct occurring on the premises or in the presence of the business owner/manager or its employees—e.g., to call police when witnessing an assault (unless doing so might increase the danger or lead to reprisals).

Failure of the business to act to protect, or to report a criminal act against persons inside their premises may make them liable for negligence; and if it caused the death of the victim, depending on an array of circumstances, the business may also be liable for wrongful death claims from the family of the victim. The California Code of Civil Procedure cites specific persons who may have rights to assert a wrongful death cause of action.

CCP § 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 their behalf:

(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.”

There are a lot of elements to consider and numerous possibilities depending on the circumstances surrounding each case, that’s why it is advisable to work with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury cases for guidance in wrongful death claims.

Would you like to discuss your legal matter?


image description
Jack Morgan CALL US! 866-205-4971

We will assist in scheduling new and existing clients for all offices. For initial consultations we will ask you a few questions and then find the best time for you to talk to one of the lawyers that best fits your legal matter.

Call us or use the email form and we will follow up with you right away.


The Law Offices of Hogan Injury will provide you with personalized attention and guidance. Protecting your rights is our main objective. We have been representing clients for the past 30 years and our experienced team of attorneys will advise you of the legal consequences of every decision you take.