Losing a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences a human being can have. It is even worse when the death is brought about by the negligence or misconduct of an individual or company. In California, when a person dies because of negligence or misconduct, certain members of that person's family may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. The attorneys in our Los Angeles office help those who have lost loved ones to wrongful death seek redress.
NEWS: $1.7B Verdict in Ford Truck Accident after Rollover Crash
The 12-day trial over the deaths of a couple, who were killed when a tire on their Ford Super Duty F-250 Crew Cab pickup truck separated, causing it to roll over and crush the vehicle's roof. The family claimed a dangerously weak roof in the vehicle led to the couple's death in the rollover after the tire separation. The tire that separated had been manufactured by Cooper Tires and installed by auto servicer Pep Boys. Trial in the case against Ford centered on damages, after a 2018 mistrial led to sanctions against the auto company, including findings in favor of the family on defective design and failure to warn claims. Ford argued that rollover was accidental and severe, and that the roof protected against the vast majority of rollover crashes.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is a death caused by the negligence or misconduct of an individual or company. The death could be from medical mistakes made in a hospital, work-related injuries sustained on the job, violence by criminals, vehicle accidents, airplane or train crashes, exposure to a toxic substance, or similar acts.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil claim for damages, such as compensation for funeral expenses, loss of future income, and other benefits that the survivors have lost due to the victim's death. This is different from a survivor's action, which is a civil claim for losses that the victim experienced before death. In some cases, however, a wrongful death claim and a survivor's action may be brought together. Our attorneys have experience with both wrongful death and survivor's actions.
In California, wrongful death suits can be brought against individuals or companies. Also, if the death resulted from a criminal act, a person may be both prosecuted criminally for homicide and sued civilly in a wrongful death action (as in the O.J. Simpson cases).
Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Los Angeles?
A wrongful death claim may be brought by the spouse, domestic partner, child, or dependent parent of the wrongful death victim. There are certain restrictions, though. For example, some states prohibit one family member from filing a wrongful death claim against another for the death of a third family member.
What Damages Can Be Claimed in a California Wrongful Death Case?
The damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death case are based on losses that the survivors have suffered due to the death. It is impossible to say what damages, if any, may be recovered in any particular case without knowing the circumstances of that case. But some examples of the types of damages sought in wrongful death cases include the following:
- Funeral expenses;
- Loss of future earnings (which the victim would have earned had he or she lived);
- Benefits lost due to the victim's death, such as medical insurance, pensions or retirement plans;
- Companionship, care or protection; and
- Suffering and mental anguish experienced by the survivors because of the death.
In cases involving both a wrongful death claim and a survivor's action, the damages sought in the wrongful death claim cannot be the same as the damages sought in the survivor's action.
Wrongful Death Legal Considerations
We cannot offer legal advice to you without knowledge of the circumstances of your case, and nothing on this website should be construed as offering such advice. If you believe a family member has died from the misconduct or negligence of another, and seek to bring a wrongful death claim, it is prudent to obtain legal advice from an attorney as soon as possible.
California law sets time limits, called statutes of limitations, for filing particular types of claims. If the statute of limitations expires, you can lose your right to file a claim.
What If I Cannot Afford to Pay an Attorney?
Our attorneys will represent you on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay any legal fees unless your attorney reaches a settlement for you or wins in court. If you do not receive compensation, you owe nothing. If you do receive compensation, legal fees and expenses are paid as a percentage of total recovery.
What Should I Look for in a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Choosing an attorney is a major decision. An important factor to consider is whether the wrongful death attorney you select is someone whom you trust to bring your claim in a zealous and professional manner. Other elements to consider include your level of comfort with the attorney, and the attentiveness and effectiveness of the attorney's staff.
How We Can Help
The attorneys in our office have extensive experience with wrongful death claims, and are well-versed in the complex legal issues raised by these claims. They will put their resources and experience to work for you. And our lawyers and staff receive a tremendous amount of satisfaction knowing that they are helping families who have lost a loved one unexpectedly. Schedule a consultation with a member of our Los Angeles based firm is free and confidential and see how we can help!