Wrongful Death Lawyer in Los Angeles
Losing someone we love and depend on can be both emotionally and financially crushing. Loss is one of the most devastating and gut-wrenching feelings that anyone could ever go through.
The emotional trauma and financial burden that results from the loss of a loved one is usually unbearable; and what makes matters worse is if the cause of death was totally avoidable, such as in the case of an accident caused by negligence.
When such is the case, filing a wrongful death lawsuit could be the key to providing you with the closure and sense of justice needed to move on.
What Services Does a Wrongful Death Law Firm Provide For Their Clients?
We are a Los Angeles wrongful death law firm with a high success rate in helping victimized families recover substantial monetary compensations from wrongful death lawsuits.
We understand the magnitude of the loss of a loved one and its impact on the victim’s families. We use this knowledge to offer aggressive (yet compassionate) representation of our clients in the courtroom and most often than not, we come out with a positive verdict.
In the subsequent sections, we answer some of the frequently asked questions on wrongful death such as its definition, common causes and who can successfully file a wrongful death claim - and why you need the best wrongful death attorneys on your side for a successful claim.
What is Wrongful Death?
When a death occurs as a result of some other party’s negligence or misconduct, it is referred to as wrongful death. The legal definition of wrongful death, according to California state law, is causing death as a result of "the wrongful act or neglect of another."
In Los Angeles, a wrongful death claim can be filed regardless of where the tragedy occurred. So, whether the accident occurred at home (using consumer products), or at work (as a result of defective equipment or tools) or, most popularly, on the highway as a result of negligent drivers (who may or may not be under the influence or driving defective vehicles), you can successfully file and win a wrongful death claim.
However, deciding whether or not you should file a wrongful death claim can only be determined after consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney. That initial consultation (free with us) will help you understand the nuances of a wrongful death claim, your eligibility to claim it and even your chances of success.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
As explained above, a wrongful death is defined as when a person is killed due to the negligence, or misconduct, of someone else. A wrongful death claim is when the immediate family of the person killed, also referred to as survivors or beneficiaries, file a lawsuit against the responsible party for monetary damages.
A wrongful death claim is filed and handled in the civil court because the lawsuit is a civil action. It is quite different from a criminal prosecution, such as manslaughter or homicide, which is brought forward by the government against the perpetrator. Civil actions cannot seek any form of punishment for the crime committed; instead, you will have to settle for monetary damages if you win the lawsuit.
Winning a wrongful death claim is not always easy, especially if you don’t have an experienced attorney on your side. In order to successfully win a wrongful death lawsuit, it must be proven to the jury that the defendant is responsible for the death of your loved one, either through direct or indirect negligence. It must also be proven without a doubt that the victim’s death has resulted in both emotional and financial loss to the surviving family members.
What Are Some of the Causes of Wrongful Deaths?
There are several causes of wrongful deaths in Los Angeles. Literally, every accident that leads to death and can be tied directly (or indirectly) to another party’s negligence and recklessness would warrant a wrongful death claim.
Some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths in Los Angeles - and most of California actually - include:
Road Traffic Accidents
This is one of the most common causes of wrongful death, not only in Los Angeles but across the country in general. Road traffic accidents usually occur as a result of careless driving. Examples include running a red light, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving at an unsafe speed, or dialling a cell phone instead of watching the road.
Failure to Maintain Safe Premises
Every home or business owner has the responsibility of keeping their premises safe. This is to ensure the safety of the people around. If a fatal accident occurs as a result of a faulty railing or bad wiring, the property’s owner or manager will be held responsible and a wrongful death claim can be filed against them.
Defective Product Accidents
A lot of people have been killed as a result of defective products such as drugs, vehicles and machines. When companies are in a hurry to get products into the market to satisfy shareholders and increase profits, they occasionally skip proper safety measures. As a result, many innocent people lose their lives. A lawsuit can be brought against such a company, and with the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney, a favorable outcome can be expected.
Usually, work-related accidents that result in death are regulated by the worker’s compensation laws and NOT wrongful death law. However, if the death was caused by a third party, such as a careless driver, then a wrongful death claim might be brought forward. Again, a wrongful death lawyer will help you make an informed decision.
Medical Malpractice or Negligence
Under most circumstances, a medical professional is meticulous and always pays attention to detail. Notwithstanding, there are many incidents where the negligent actions of a doctor, nurse or other licensed medical professional have directly resulted in the death of a patient. A wrongful death can result from failure to diagnose a condition or from a surgical error.
These are some of the most common causes of wrongful death, but in no way is this list exhaustive. If your loved one died as a result of avoidable circumstances and you are not sure whether you have a valid claim or not, we encourage you to contact a wrongful death law firm today.
Who Can File a Claim?
State laws often govern who can file a wrongful death claim.
In California, these are specified in the state’s wrongful death statute (CCP Section 377.60) and those that can file a claim can be broken down into the following:
- The deceased’s immediate family which includes the surviving spouse (or domestic partner) and their children (or stepchildren).
- The deceased’s surviving parents, siblings (and their children) and even grandparents. These categories of people do not need to be dependent on the deceased before they can file a wrongful death claim.
- If nobody meets any of the above requirements, then the right to file a wrongful death claim falls on the deceased’s next of kin.
Keep in mind that in order to bring a wrongful death claim forward, you need to prove without an iota of doubt that the cause of death was negligent or intentional actions that could have otherwise be avoided.
You will need evidence to prove this. A wrongful death lawyer will help you gather all the information needed (police reports, medical documents etc) to help you secure a beneficial outcome.
What Types of Damages Can Be Claimed?
While some states put a “cap” or limit on the amount that can be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, California’s wrongful death laws have no such thing.
With that said, there are basically two types of damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles. These are:
- Economic damages: these refer to monetary compensation awarded to those filing the lawsuit. Economic damages are expected to cover such things as lost earnings of the deceased, financial and medical expenses, and funeral costs.
- Noneconomic damages: these are monetary compensation that is awarded for non-monetary losses such as the physical and emotional pain and suffering the deceased’s family are going through. Noneconomic damages take into consideration the loss of companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, and moral support of the deceased.
Determining economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit is quite easy and straightforward. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for noneconomic damages.
Because it is very difficult to put a monetary value on the loss of love and companionship, juries are encouraged to award a “just” compensation.
Although no amount of money can compensate for your loss, it can provide a sense of justice, closure and a cushion to offset any future financial worries.
How Does Time Play a Part in the Filing of a Wrongful Death Suit?
Time plays a critical factor when considering whether or not you want to file a wrongful death claim. The time between when the accident happened and when you can no longer legally file for compensation is referred to as the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the state in which the accident occurred. In California, it is two years from the date of death. If a suit is not filed before the statute of limitation expires, you will lose your legal right to seek any form of monetary compensation.
However, this is not so for a medical malpractice case, or where the negligent party is a government official. When that is the case, it is advisable for you (or the person who can legally file a claim) to seek the services of a wrongful death attorney right away.
What is the Difference Between a Settlement and a Court Verdict in a Wrongful Death Case?
After consulting with an attorney and deciding to go ahead and file a wrongful death suit, there are two outcomes you can expect. These are either a settlement or a court verdict.
When you take a wrongful death case to court, you either settle the case out of court or you get a court verdict. A court verdict is pretty straightforward. After both the defense and prosecuting lawyers make their case before the jury, a decision will be made. It could either be in your favor or not.
A settlement, on the other hand, is when the case is settled out of court and the defense is ready to make an offer. They may not want the case to go to trial for several reasons including protecting their brand name among others.
When a settlement offer is made, you need an experienced wrongful death lawyer to look over the fine print and make sure you are getting the best possible deal. It is not uncommon for the defense to offer a very low offer at first. If your attorney advises you to make a counter-offer, go ahead and run with that decision because they have your best interest at heart.
Sometimes, pursuing a settlement is the best course of action. When a wrongful death case goes to trial, it could go between a few weeks to a few years. This makes the healing process a very painful one. One that is best avoided. An experienced attorney can help you quickly file a wrongful death claim, push for a very attractive compensation and help you focus on healing and moving forward with your life.
How Long Does it Take to Receive Compensation?
Every wrongful death case is unique and therefore the time it takes to receive compensation will differ. Beware of any wrongful death law firm promising you an unbelievable timeframe. The truth is there are several variables that determine the actual time frame.
Some cases could easily be settled with the negligent party’s insurer even before a wrongful death lawsuit is filed. While other cases might settle right before the case goes to trial when the insurance company realizes they can no longer delay the inevitable.
Although most cases settle out of court, some actually go to trial. When this is the case, your attorney MUST prepare a solid wrongful death case backed with evidence, reports and testimonies that will convince the jury to rule in your favor.
Another factor that determines how long it takes to receive your compensation will be the type of accident that resulted in the death. Complicated cases involving defective products (especially in the pharmaceutical industry) will generally take longer than those involving defective cars. Likewise, medical malpractice cases have special procedures that could easily delay a resolution to your claim.
This article, although very in-depth, is still a basic overview of wrongful death in Los Angeles. For you to make a smart, informed decision, you need to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney. You can easily schedule a free consultation with us to discuss the details of your case. There are no strings attached and no commitments necessary. We just want to help you make the right decisions. Contact us today. You need the help of an experienced, wrongful death lawyer to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to.