A wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of another person’s carelessness or misbehavior. Some common examples of wrongful death include car accidents, public transportation accidents, and boating accidents. The surviving members of the deceased’s family can file a wrongful death suit against the negligent party to obtain compensation for emotional and financial damages.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Suit?
In order to submit a successful cause of action, the following elements need to be present in a wrongful death suit:
- The victim’s death. (This should have been caused by the defending party’s negligence or intent to cause harm.)
- Surviving family members who’re experiencing financial problems as a result of the death.
- The appointment of a personal representative to handle the decedent’s estate.
What Are the Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases can take on a variety of forms which include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Medical malpractice
- Vehicular and aviation accidents
- Exposure to hazardous conditions or substances in the workplace
- Criminal conduct
- Death that occurred during a supervised activity.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Generally speaking, immediate family members, including surviving spouses and children, can sue for wrongful death. This suit should be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
In California, only certain individuals can file wrongful death lawsuits. The relevant statute permits the following parties to file wrongful death claims:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner.
- The deceased person’s surviving children.
- If there is no surviving person in the deceased’s line of descent, then a suit can be brought by anyone who’s entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession, including the deceased’s parents and siblings.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims?
California law states that wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. Hence, if the case isn’t filed within two years with the state’s civil court system, then the legal claimants will lose the right to file at all.
How Does a Wrongful Death Suit Work?
Filing a wrongful death suit entails a series of legal processes, which are discussed in detail below:
- At first, an attorney may seek to resolve the lawsuit without going to trial. If the case cannot be settled, then the attorney must prepare a Complaint and Summons that will be served on the defendant. The complaint will be lodged with the proper court to begin the wrongful death lawsuit.
- The complaint states the reason why the defendant has been sued, the laws that support the plaintiff’s claim, as well as the compensation demanded by the plaintiff.
- Once the wrongful death suit has been filed, the defendant has to respond to the complaint within a given period. The response usually rebuts the plaintiff’s allegations and aims for the case’s dismissal.
- The attorneys for both sides will be given a chance to acquire information that is related to the suit. Either side can file a motion in case of discovery disputes to compel compliance.
- Both parties may attempt to engage in settlement negotiations throughout the litigation process.
- The lawsuit will go to trial if an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached.
- At the end of the trial, the judge or jury will reach a verdict. If either determines that the defendant’s reckless, negligent, or deliberately harmful act led to a wrongful death, then the plaintiff will be awarded damages based on the evidence.
Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer to Obtain Just Compensation
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the reckless behavior or negligence of another party, then you have every right to seek damages. However, it can be difficult to win a wrongful death claim due to the complex legal process and the need to provide burden of proof.
If you’re serious about obtaining the maximum wrongful death compensation to cover all of your losses and suffering, as well as punitive damages, then seek the legal expertise of Los-Angeles based wrongful death attorneys.
Compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one could reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, depending on the nature of your claims. Mesriani Law Group’s team of experienced attorneys will help you obtain the just compensation you deserve to cover all of your losses.