If you have a loved one die in a manner you expect, it is stressful and sad. However, if that person’s death is caused by carelessness or negligence, it makes the loss that much harder to bear. While in these situations the emotions of family members are running quite high, it is also a time when they may need to decide on whether or not to file a wrongful death claim against whom they perceive to be the negligent party responsible for their loved one’s death. But before doing so, it is important to know the key aspects of how these claims work once they are started. If you and your family are facing this difficult decision, here are the major components involved in wrongful death lawsuits, as well as reasons why you will require the services of an experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney.
When Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the most important aspect is to decide if grounds exist to where you could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had your loved one not been killed due to the defendant’s negligence or carelessness. However, since many factors will come into play when making this decision, always make sure you are working with a wrongful death lawyer whose opinion and judgement you can trust. As for situations that often result in wrongful death lawsuits, some of the most common examples are medical malpractice, car accidents resulting in fatalities, or situations where your loved one was intentionally killed.
What About Work-Related Deaths?
While almost any situation where a personal injury claim could be filed make it possible to instead file a wrongful death lawsuit, one of the most notable exceptions involves work-related deaths. In these situations, workers compensation most often handles compensation. However, there may still be times when a worker’s death happened due to extremely unsafe work conditions or other factors that could be construed as gross negligence by the employer or others. In these cases, it may be possible to work with West Coast Trial Lawyers to file a wrongful death claim in addition to a workers compensation claim.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To come out on top when filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the burden of proof revolves around being able to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. Just as it is with personal injury lawsuits, there are four main aspects that make up proving negligence in these cases. First, you must prove the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, then that the duty of care was violated by the defendant. Next, you must show that once the duty of care was violated, this directly resulted in the death of your loved one. Finally, it must be proven that any damages for which you are seeking compensation are directly attributed to the loved one’s death. Due to the complexities that can be involved in proving some or all of these aspects of negligence, always work closely with a skilled wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles.
Who is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a loved one dies, the wrongful death lawsuit is most often filed by a representative of the late person’s estate on behalf of the survivors left behind who had a relationship with the victim. While this can vary from state to state, all states do allow a spouse to file such a lawsuit on behalf of their deceased husband or wife. In addition, parents may also bring wrongful death lawsuits when a minor child is killed, and minor children can also be compensated in these lawsuits should their parents die due to the negligence of others.
Can Distant Relatives File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Since state laws vary regarding this question, it can be difficult to answer. For example, some states allow parents to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of their adult children, and also allow adult children to do the same if their parents are killed. However, the process becomes much more difficult when determining whether adult siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, or uncles can sue for wrongful death. In most states, the more distant the family relationship, the harder it becomes to file these lawsuits.
Do I Have to be Married to File Such a Lawsuit?
While it may appear on the surface that marriage is required in order to file a wrongful death claim, that is not the case at all. In fact, many states allow romantic partners of a deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuit, so long as they can show they were financially dependent on the deceased individual. However, if you are in this situation and decide to file such a lawsuit, hire the services of a wrongful death attorney from West Coast Trial Lawyers, since these particular lawsuits may bring objections from other family members and involve numerous legal battles along the way.
What Types of Damages May I Seek?
Once you have spoken with your attorney and decided to move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit, the next step in the process will be determining the types of damages for which you will seek compensation. In most of these lawsuits, there are often many specific damages to which you may be granted compensation. Some of the most common types of damages in these cases include expenses related to various medical treatments given to the victim for their injuries prior to their death, burial and funeral costs incurred by the survivors, and compensation for the deceased person’s pain and suffering prior to their death, which is often called the “survival claim.”
May I Seek Compensation for Other Damages?
While the above-mentioned damages are the most common ones for which compensation is sought in a wrongful death lawsuit, they are by no means the only ones for which you may be entitled to financial compensation. Many survivors, after speaking with their attorney, choose to be compensated for such damages as:
–Loss of the victim’s expected income
–Loss of inheritance due to the person’s death
–Loss of guidance, nurturing, and care provided by deceased victim
–Loss of sexual relations and companionship (consortium)
–Value of any services deceased individual would have provided
While it may seem open and shut to many people about being compensated for these areas, it can be complex and difficult in some cases to prove to the court you are entitled to such damages. As a result, always make available to your attorney all financial records and other important information that will help prove your case.
Will My Case Go To Trial?
While some wrongful death lawsuits do go to trial, the vast majority are usually settled out of court. In most instances, this is done so after negotiations between your attorney, the defendant’s attorney, and the defendant’s insurance company. Therefore, always make sure the wrongful death lawyer you hire is a skilled negotiator and has a proven track record of success in these cases.
Rather than sit back and suffer tremendous emotional and financial losses due to the death of your loved one, contact a wrongful death attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers to schedule a consultation.