The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought in the event of a person’s death, which resulted from negligence or recklessness on the part of the defendant. It can be brought by a surviving family member, or even someone who used to be a life partner on a “civil union” basis. If a loved one dies of a natural cause, his or her family would have tremendous grief and loss to deal with. A wrongful death is even worse, because it brings home the fact that the death could have been avoided, if only the at-fault party had done their duty. In many cases, the bereaved are also deprived of primary financial support, because the decedent used to be a major provider.

Any family in such a situation has significant legal rights, one of them being the eligibility to pursue compensation from a supposed wrongdoer. If they have a competent wrongful death attorney representing them, and manage to prove the defendant’s fault, they would also be able to gain compensation for the losses caused by the latter’s transgression. This brings them justice and closure, so that they can finally move on.

Elements of the Lawsuit

In cases where a loved one’s death is caused by another person’s misconduct, one can end up losing the love and affection, physical support, financial support, etc. When claiming compensation in court, they would need to bear in mind that the court would examine the following elements of the wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Did the defendant’s negligence or willfulness cause the passing, or did something else? This is called causation. If the defendant cannot be shown to have acted in a way, which irrefutably caused the death, then the case falls apart. For example, suppose a person dies of cancer; his or her family could not sue the hospital or doctor if they treated the patient according to established guideline. However, any caretaker who exposed the decedent to bad drugs, radiation, etc., could be proven legally responsible for their death. If they intended harm, the deed would be recognized as a wrongful act; if they were careless, it would fall under negligence. Either way, the wrongful death lawsuit would hinge on being able to prove their involvement in the act.
  • Was the damage caused intentional or negligent? This has bearing on how kindly the jury looks on the defendant. While the outcome remains the same, it matters if the accused knew what they were doing at the time. For instance, shooting someone point blank is a blatantly willful act. If it ends the latter’s life, you get punished for it, and usually more heavily. A negligent act, in contrast, is one where the victim’s death is not pre-meditated. One example is rear-ending someone into cross-lane traffic and causing his or her death. Here, if proven guilty, the defendant would be charged with a “Reckless Act”, and punishment might be mitigated.
  • Did the survivor(s) suffer a loss? This is important for the court to know, since a lot of families exist with estranged relations. A wrongful death claim needs to prove one or more of the following losses from the survivor’s side: love, physical support, and financial support. Loss of love covers begin deprived of affection, sexual gratification, or other things. Loss of financial support is more easily proven – the decedent may have earned and provided a substantial amount to the survivor before their death, or contributed to a fund of which the latter was a beneficiary, and this proverbial well has now dried up, owing to the defendant’s actions. Physical support falls under everything the decedent used to do for their survivor(s), who now have to do without it.

Under CA Law

In California, every would-be wrongful death plaintiff is required by the statute of limitations, to file their legal action inside a two-year time limit. The court would require evidence, which proves that the accused was negligent or reckless, and that their conduct caused the death in question. Any family member or legal partner left behind by the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in court. If the plaintiff is a minor, he or she can have it filed by a guardian or parent. The court would require proof of monetary damages.

Pursuing a Negligent Killing Claim

The main thing that needs to be done here is proving the elements mentioned above. A survivor must prove that they have suffered or will suffer a financial loss due to the decedent’s passing, such as funeral, medical, and burial costs. Lost supporting income and potential inheritance are major factors as well. On top of that, emotional losses including love and affection would need to be proven beyond doubt.

How Property Fire Occurs and Who Can Be Held Liable for it

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Wrongful Death Laws

Losing a loved one due to any circumstance is a difficult thing to face. Investigating the details of what or who may have actually contributed to the deadly fire in California can be even more stressful and emotional. Therefore, you have to consult with an experienced attorney if you are thinking about filing a wrongful death claim following a fire. An attorney is an objective third party who can help determine who is legally responsible for your loss.

Some Reasons Why Fire Can Become Deadly

  • Malfunction of Heating Equipment: Gas leaks can go simply unnoticed for days, resulting in an explosive gas buildup in the area. Besides, boiler rooms that deteriorate can blow if they are not serviced properly.
  • Electrical Malfunction: Faulty or old wiring can trigger a potentially deadly fire in a matter of moments. Electrical circuits that are poorly maintained can contribute to fire caused by the malfunctions too.
  • Unattended Fires: Unattended candles, for instance, can cause it in an instant. The flames of the candle can lap against your curtains, growing quickly into an inferno, and possibly leading to severe injury or demise. Any unattended fire, even a smoldering cigarette for that matter, can be potentially dangerous. It is essential to be conscious of your surroundings all the time and never leave flames unattended.

Parties Who May Be Legally Responsible for Wrongful Death Claim

  • Product Manufacturer:Businesses that make unsafe appliances as well as other products can be legally responsible in the claim. There are wrongful death lawyers who research technologies as well as reports in order to determine whether a product maker can be held liable.
  • Property Owner: Obviously, a property owner is responsible for making sure that there are fire extinguishers as well as smoke detectors in a working condition. Plus, the owner of a private or business property has to monitor fire safety codes, maintain its alarm systems, and install adequate signage for warning visitors of the risks of fire. If he or she fails to do so, and a fatal domestic fire results, the owner of the property may be liable.
  • Contractor: The law of California regulates construction standards. Therefore, if the infrastructure is maintained poorly – or poor architectural design – is to blame for accident that results in an injury or wrongful fatal death, the builder in question may be held legally responsible.

How to Pursue a Civil Case if the Defendant Dies Before Trial

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Wrongful death cases

Wrongful death cases get extremely complicated if the defendant passes away before the trial begins. This event is common in car accidents where the driver who caused the accident was also fatally injured. It is commonly noticed that people tend to assume that it is impossible to claim the rightful compensation if the defendant passes away. This is not true. Although it may be a time consuming and tedious process, it is very much possible to establish claims to compensation that you deserve. Expert wrongful death lawyers will be able to get the job done very easily.

Suing a Deceased Defendant

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to file a lawsuit against a deceased person. However, ensure that your lawsuit comes within the framework of the statute of limitations. This is, in a way, the deadline to file such a claim. This will also help maintain the record of the lawsuit. You may not be able to file the lawsuit once the statute of limitations expires. In the majority of instances, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years in California.

There are laws that allow plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against the estate of the defendant who passed away. If the case succeeds, you may be able to collect your compensation from the defendant’s auto insurance company. In case the compensation provided was satisfactory, you need to take no further action. On the other hand, if the compensation is below the required level, you need to further seek the compensation. This can be obtained either from the individual’s collectible assets or from the individual’s estate.

It is mentioned in the California Probate Code Sections 550 and 552 states that any action planned by the plaintiff seeking recovery should be filed against the insurer of the deceased person. After this, a lawsuit is then carried out on the insurer and further pursued against the insurance carrier. According to Probate Code 551, it is possible to file a lawsuit against the entity within one year of the statute of limitations expires.

If the person tends to miss out on it, the plaintiff can get a year extra to file a lawsuit. This is also known as a “grace period”. The Probate Code Section 377.42 says that the plaintiff can recover all damages incurred when a wrongful death lawsuit is filed in opposition to the estate of a decedent.

Difference between Wrongful Death Suit and Workers’ Compensation

Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful Death Suit

Workers’ compensation is designed to give financial benefits to an employee who is injured when on the job. This also applies if an employee dies when on the job and provides financial aid to his/her dependents.

Several people do not realize is that it is designed to protect people from being sued for inquiries or deaths related to a job – even if an employer was negligent or employer contributed to a hazardous workplace environment. This means that even if a company violated safety standards, like those set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it is still protected by the workers’ compensation laws.

At the same time, if a third party caused the workplace death, the surviving family may be able to file the wrongful death lawsuit against that party, but not the employer. That third party can be a contractor or faulty equipment’s manufacturer.

To file the wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving members have to prove that:

  • Their loved one passed away owing to the negligence of someone else.
  • The family suffered harm due to the demise of their loved one, like lost earning capacity or income, and/or intangible loses like pain and suffering, lost partnership, decreased quality of life, and so forth.

Compensation for losses that are intangible is part of what makes the wrongful death claim different in comparison – workers’ compensation does not give benefits for these things. The surviving family can often recover more through a wrongful death lawsuit than through workers’ compensation.

Wrongful death benefits can comprise:

  • Medical as well as other injuries, plus demise-related expenses the person and his or her surviving family incurred from the negligent act’s moment until the demise.
  • Funeral as well as burial expenses incurred.
  • Lost wages that would have been obtained by the deceased individual until his or her retirement.
  • Loss of care, assistance, services, and other benefits given by the deceased.
  • Other damages like pain and suffering.

In California, there is a two-year deadline to file the lawsuit from the date of the demise. This is called the “statute of limitations”. (Note that the claims in the state are not limited to wrongful death incidents happened due to workplace negligence.)

Pros and Cons to Filing the Claims

Workers’ Compensation: One of the action’s main benefits is there is no necessity to prove negligence of your loved one contributed to her or his demise; collecting benefits is considered as easy a task as filing the claim. The major downside is that you drop your right to sue the at-fault employer for damages by filing it; there are no benefits for intangible losses and death benefits for this are capped at a predetermined figure.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: The major benefit of filing this is the greater compensation potential, comprising benefits for your intangible losses; plus, wrongful demise suits that comprise punitive damage grants can help deter misconduct in the future, as well as there are no damage limits. The main downside to filing the suit is that it can take a long time to get the settlement amount.

If you have lost your family member due to a workplace accident, consult the matter with an attorney. An experienced professional can help you recover as much as possible from workers’ compensation and help you realize whether the wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in LA

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Wrongful Death Claim

The death of a loved one can be a very difficult thing to cope up with, and if it is a wrongful death, it can become even more painful. It is really horrible to have someone you love taken away from you, that too due to the negligence of others.

Nothing can truly make up for your loss, but a wrongful death attorney can help you get compensation for your loss from the parties who are responsible for the accident. While there can be no true compensation for your loss, the financial compensation can still be used to pay off the bills, debts, and to make the days ahead a bit better.

Wrongful Death Claims LA

There is a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, and this is one of the things, which many people do not know. It is really awful when a loved one has departed before time. However, it would compound it to allow the statute of limitations run out before you file the wrongful death case. It might be really difficult for you to reach out to an attorney to file the case at once, but many death attorney LA offices offer free consultations, which can help to make the difficult process easier.

It is important to keep in mind that the insurance agents and the company might seem like they can be trusted, but in reality, you should never trust them. No matter how kind or warm the insurance company and their agents may appear, you should always keep in mind that they are talking on behalf of the defendant and not you. They will be concerned about the insurance firm and not you.

You should also understand that the insurance firm makes money by not paying the claims to people like you. This is the reason why you should not sign anything from the insurance firm without consulting with your wrongful death attorney. It might seem to be a good deal to you, but it will never be.

Your lawyer can help you fight back, instead of allowing the insurance firm to get away by offering you much less money than you deserve. In the case of wrongful death claim, there can be many different types of losses that you can be compensated for. Your wrongful death attorney will be able to ensure that you are rightly compensated for the loss. Of course, the loss of companionship and love can never be compensated for and these damages are limitless, meaning that the punitive damages are really high for them.

Wrongful Death Attorney
Accident Death Attorney

For most of us, when we lose a loved one in a wrongful death, we also lose an important financial provider. If the loved one whom you lost helped to provide for you financially, then your wrongful death attorney would help you get compensations for that as well. The damages for your loss include the lost wages that you have suffered since the passing away of the loved one. In addition, these damages would also include what your loved one would have made in the years to come.

You might have counted on the money that your love one would have earned for, say, while buying the house. This as well as the financial support offered by your loved one can also be included in the damages to be addressed in the lawsuit.

Accident Death Attorney

In case of wrongful death, you can also claim for all the suffering and pain, which is commonly done in such claims. Yet another wrongful death damage you can include is “loss of guidance and care”. When you lose the guidance of a loved one, who has cared for you, you are eligible to get compensation to make up for the loss of care and guidance. Besides, paying for the funeral and burial of your loved one can also be expensive. As these expenses are something you would not have paid for if there were not any wrongful death, you can claim for these expenses also.

Wrongful death can be of varying forms. This is the reason it is important for you to hire a wrongful death attorney to file the case for you. Some of the wrongful death cases happen via medical malpractice, others through motorcycle accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, and many more reasons. No matter what the type of your loved one’s wrongful death is, it is imperative to get help from an attorney to proceed with the case.

Remember that it is very difficult to take on an insurance company in a wrongful death case, as the company will be having many resources and can summon these resources to deal with the case whenever necessary. Therefore, it is important for you to hire a wrongful death attorney LA who is efficient and experienced in handling such lawsuits. You may also seek help of a law firm, which has the resources to match that of the insurance firm.

Things to Know about Line Splitting in California

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Line Splitting Laws

It is common to see two-wheeler vehicles splitting lanes while driving. There is a major misconception regarding lane splitting in the general public. In addition, there are several basic things, which you need to know about it in order to prevent a visit to the wrongful death lawyer. Below are a few things to remember while you are riding a motorcycle on the California roads.

It is Legal

According to the state’s declaration in 2016, “Lane splitting is defined as driving a motorcycle that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on either divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”

One of the main misconceptions regarding two-wheeler vehicles is that lane splitting is illegal. According to a study, only 60.7 percent of vehicle drivers are aware that lane splitting is legal. Yet again, motorcyclists have to make sure that they follow the road safety rules strictly and split the lanes responsibly. Note that the California state law also adds that lane splitting is a dangerous act and that it should be performed with utmost caution and preparation.

Some Tips for the Motorcyclists

Keep the entire surroundings in mind while splitting lanes. This covers the size of the neighboring vehicles, lighting conditions, weather, and the width of the lanes. It is advised to split lanes between the far left ones instead of the other ones. Moreover, remember that the possibility of danger increases as the speed and the differential increases.

Riding on the shoulder of another vehicle is illegal. In addition, always ensure that you remain visible to other drivers. You should avoid riding on the blind spots and behind other vehicles at any cost. Furthermore, use reflective protective gear or brightly colored clothes to help other drivers notice you easily.

You can gain the visibility of the other drivers by using high beams during daylight. However, try to avoid splitting lanes next to the larger sized vehicles such as motor homes, big RVs, and buses.

A Few General Tips for All Drivers

  • Check the mirrors regularly before changing lanes. This is to prevent any accident due to the hidden visibility of a vehicle in the blind spots.
  • Always be alert while driving and anticipate the possible moves by the other motorcyclists.
  • Make sure that you drive while you are fully focused and not intoxicated by any kind of substance, alcohol, or fatigue.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and When

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Wrongful Death Lawsuit

For an uninitiated, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed when one dies due to another person or entity’s wrongful act or negligence. It is one of the civil lawsuits, brought to the court of law by survivors of the deceased or personal representative of the person. A fault is solely expressed in terms of financial damages, which the court orders the defendant to pay to the survivors of the decedent (assuming the lawsuit in question is successful).

It differs from criminal cases for homicides, which are brought by the US state, and wherein guilt is penalized with jail time, probation, as well as other methods. In fact, the family of the deceased may bring civil wrongful death claim to the court of law even in case a criminal case is already going forward.

In California, only certain individuals or parties are permitted to file wrongful death lawsuit. The statute particularly lets the below-mentioned parties bring wrongful death claim.

  • Surviving spouse of the deceased individual
  • The deceased person’s domestic partner
  • The decedent’s surviving kids

In case there is no surviving individual in the person’s current line of descent, a wrongful death case may be brought to anybody “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”, which can comprise the deceased’s parents or siblings, depending upon who is living at the time of his or her passing away.

Besides, in case they can show that they were financially dependent upon the decedent, the below-mentioned parties can bring the lawsuit in CA.

  • The deceased’s “putative spouse” as well as putative spouse’s kids
  • The person’s stepchildren
  • The decedent’s parents

When to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California

Like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim in the state has to be filed inside a specific period of time, which in legalese is referred to as “statute of limitations”. The state statute necessitates the claim to be filed inside two years of the passing away date. In case the case is not filed in its civil court system inside the stipulated time period, the family will nearly certainly lose the right to do it at all.

You can consider hiring a wrongful death attorney sooner rather than later so that the professional can fight in the court on your behalf and recover as many damages as possible.

Wrongful Death vs. Survivorship Claims

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Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death lawsuit is one where one person responsible for causing the death of another person, lacks any lawful excuse for the same. Under the California state law, wrongful death is seen as a fatality resulting from “the wrongful act or neglect of another”.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Some states have laws allowing close family members, or heirs, of the deceased to legally acquire compensation, for losses that they suffered from the death under consideration. Filing a proper lawsuit in court allows them to pursue compensation from the defendant, as long as the latter is proven to be responsible for the fatality. With a competent California injury lawyer handling the case, the chances of obtaining this become much greater.

Some states also allow suing the defendant’s insurance company, while in others, the defendant is legally obligated to notify their insurer of the claim leveled against them. Wrongful death lawsuits fall under the civil action category, and are different from criminal prosecution for manslaughter or homicide. In each of the latter cases, the government brings the lawsuit upon the wrongdoer.

Being a civil action, a wrongful death case does not allow seeking punishment or imprisonment; only monetary damages can be acquired, and that too, only if a charge of neglect or deliberate intent is proven.

Survivorship Claims

Instead of awarding compensation for losses from another person’s death, survivorship claims are a way for the estate of the deceased to acquire compensation for losses suffered by the deceased, before their passing. Said losses need to be a proven result of negligent or wrongful conduct on the defendant’s side.

Damages that the plaintiff can pursue include medical expenses, ambulance fees, loss of earning while being hospitalized, etc. California does not allow seeking damages for pain and suffering incurred by the deceased within a survivorship lawsuit, but does allow pursuing compensation for losses resulting from neglect or abuse in a dependent care facility.

Damages recovered by the estate’s personal representative from a survivorship claim, are thenceforth the property of that estate. These damages are distributed among the heirs of the deceased, either according to the latter’s will, or absent that, stipulations or guidelines provided by the state law.

Expenses incurred by the estate due to or following the death, including expenses for burial and funeral, are normally required to be clumped with the wrongful death claim. Despite this and the survivorship claim being distinct in the legal sense, they are usually covered under the same lawsuit.