The Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at Salamati Law Firm understand that no amount of money can ease the heartache associated with the loss of a loved one. However, financial award is the method by which the courts dispense justice. Seeking legal compensation can ease some of the financial burdens of losing the decedent’s support. Additionally, it can deter future misconduct if another party was truly at fault to prevent similar tragedy in others’ lives.
Definition of wrongful death in California
A “wrongful death” occurs when a person dies due to a wrongful act or negligence of another party. Obtaining due financial compensation is the end goal of wrongful death lawsuits, rather than punishment with prison time. Families in California may file wrongful death claims in addition to criminal charges being brought.
Wrongful death lawsuits may involve:
- Car accidents
- Premises liability
- Slip and fall injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Firearm accidents
- Work-related deaths
- Toxic substance exposure
- Intentional acts of violence
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles?
You may file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of California if you are the deceased person’s:
- Domestic partner
- Biological or adopted child
- Parents (of a deceased fetus)
- Next living descendent or heir – which may include parents or siblings
- Financial dependent (including putative spouse, stepchildren or parents)
Who may be found liable for a wrongful death?
Many parties can be sued for a wrongful death — often people one wouldn’t immediately presume. Diligent personal injury attorneys know just where to look for signs of negligence and liability. For instance, a fatal car accident may not just be the result of driver negligence, but of poor roadway design, faulty vehicle manufacturing, and government agencies or municipalities that failed to act despite a known hazard.
The stages of a wrongful death claim
After contacting a wrongful death attorney, you can expect the following processes to take place prior to resolution of your claim:
- Pre-litigation: A legal representative takes a look at the facts surrounding your case. A full investigation is launched, which includes interviews, evidence gathering, and early negotiations with defendants.
- Litigation: A formal complaint is filed in court. The defendant is given a chance to respond to the summons. Written questions and depositions are filed, along with requests for documents and information. Meetings with the judge and arbitrations take place. The case may be presented to a judge and jury or sent to arbitration.
- Settlement talks: If both parties agree that a trial is not the best course of action, some type of out-of-court settlement may be discussed instead. Settlement talks also sometimes take place amid a court case when the defendant realizes he or she is unlikely to win the case.
- Payout: Finally, if the case is a success, wrongful death compensation is paid out. A portion of the money will go to cover pre-arranged legal fees and the rest will be dispensed as the court sees fit. In most cases, structured settlements are set up, rather than lump sum payments.
Compensation for wrongful death
There are no caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded in California. There is a statute of limitations that stipulates claimants must file suit within two years of the victim’s death.
Family members of the decedent may be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Value of household services
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship and consortium for spouses of the deceased
- Loss of training and guidance for children of the deceased
Wrongful death statistics
- Wrongful deaths generally make up about six percent of a state’s total court case load.
- In 2015, there were 31,847 filings for motor vehicle personal injuries, property damage and wrongful death in California. Of those, 396 resulted in trial by jury and another 396 were settled outside court.
- According to the CDC, there are 130,557 “unintentional deaths” in America each year — including 30,208 falls, 33,804 motor vehicle accidents and 38,851 poisonings. Many of these fatalities are eligible for wrongful death claims.
How to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California
If you feel you may have grounds for wrongful death compensation, contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney at 800-957-9898. The Salamati Law Firm will look into your case to see if there are grounds for legal compensation. If you agree to work with Salamati Law Firm’s team, payment will come from the final jury award or settlement amount. Sometimes it can take as long as one to four years to resolve a wrongful death claim, which is why it’s important that you work with wrongful death lawyers who are fully committed to keeping you informed every step of the way.