When someone dies as a result of negligence, surviving loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity (i.e. a vehicle manufacturer) at fault. If you have endured the untimely death of a loved one, you may be able to claim wrongful death and receive compensation, by working with an experienced and compassionate lawyer.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are a relatively recent concept in our country’s legal history, coming about within the last century. In the past, people could not file a lawsuit over the death of a loved one. When someone died, their rights for civil remedy died with them. As a result, if a person injured another, the perpetrator was often in a better position financially if the victim died. Nowadays, every state in the country has some type of wrongful death law.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims involve any type of claim based on negligence, gross negligence and recklessness, and include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian collisions
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Assault and battery
- Elder abuse or neglect
- Child abuse or neglect
- Defective products
- Workplace accidents
- Dog attacks
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In California, the following types of family members can legally bring forth a lawsuit:
- Surviving spouses
- Domestic partners
- Other minor children who were dependent on the victim for at least 50% of their financial support
- Anyone who would be entitled to the deceased’s property
What Kinds of Damages Can Be Recovered?
Wrongful death claims are intended to provide surviving heirs with the value of the support they reasonably could have expected to receive from their deceased family member if he/she were still alive. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic losses, such as financial support that the deceased would have contributed to the family during his/her lifetime, the loss of benefits the deceased would have received, funeral and burial expenses, and the value of the household services the deceased would have provided. Damages also include companionship, protection, moral support, and guidance.
Can heirs receive punitive damages? They can if the deceased was killed as a result of homicide for which the defendant was convicted. Punitive damages are only rewarded if the defendant’s actions were the result of malic, oppression, or fraud. They are not intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses, but rather to punish the wrongdoer.
Who Can Be Sued in a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a wide variety of people, employees, companies, and government agencies. For example, in the case of a fatal car accident involving an unsafe road and a drunk driver, the defendants might include the drunk driver, builders of the unsafe road, and the government agency who failed to provide warnings about the hazardous road.
What Are Your Next Steps?
If someone you love died as a result of someone’s wrongdoing, don’t hesitate to contact our legal team for a free consultation. We are highly experienced in putting together compelling wrongful death cases for our clients, and we can help you to recover the damages rightfully owed to you during this difficult and stressful time.