Losing a beloved family member is the worst thing that can happen to a person. When the death results because of another party’s negligence or recklessness, thus preventable, it’s even more devastating. The experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at Salamati Law can hold those responsible for your loved one’s death accountable. An El Monte wrongful death lawyer will fight hard so that you receive the maximum compensation for your untimely loss.
On average, wrongful death lawsuits make up about 6 percent of a state’s court caseload. Behind that statistic are thousands of people mourning the death of a family member. The most frequent causes include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Intentional acts of violence
- Premises liability
- Work-related deaths
- Gun accidents
- Toxin exposure
In some cases, suicides, fires, and drownings may also constitute wrongful death.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In many states, it is the personal representative of the estate who files a wrongful death lawsuit, but that is not the case in California. Under state law, close relatives of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit, in the following order of priority:
- Domestic partner
- Child – either biological or adopted
- Financial dependents
- Next of kin under the California laws of intestate succession
To prevail in a wrongful death claim, you and your El Monte wrongful death attorney will need to prove that the negligent act of another party caused your loved one’s death– through a preponderance of the evidence. In addition, each of the following elements must be met:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care. For example, in a premises liability accident taking place in the aisle of Superior Grocers, the grocery store owner would owe a duty of care to all store patrons. Likewise, in an example of a car accident on I-10, the other driver would owe a duty of care to all motorists and passengers on the Interstate.
- This duty of care was breached. Perhaps the grocery store had erected a tall and unsecured stack of heavy crates in the middle of an aisle. In the latter example, maybe the other driver was texting while driving.
- That breach caused the accident. In the grocery store example, stacking the unsecured crates unreasonably high in a high-traffic area would understandably cause an accident when the crates fall over. Similarly, texting while operating an automobile could cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle.
- The victim was killed by this accident. Note that the victim does not necessarily need to have died at the scene. For instance, the victim of the grocery store accident may have been rushed to the emergency room, hospitalized for several weeks, and then died. Similarly, your El Monte car accident lawyer would need to prove that the victim in the distracted driving crash– died due to injuries or complications suffered in the accident.
Time is of the Essence
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years. However, if the death involved any government agency, such as a collision with a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority bus, the time to file a claim is much shorter, at just six months.
Although you are grieving, it is wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Waiting too long can mean valuable evidence that supports your wrongful death case could disappear. In a wrongful death case, various parties may prove liable, which means a thorough investigation should begin immediately.
Wrongful death damages
Damages, or compensation, for wrongful death, may include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical expenses relating to the injury
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship
- For the deceased’s children, loss of guidance
California does not impose caps on damage awards. Since each person’s life is unique, an attorney can clarify who may file a wrongful death lawsuit based on the individual’s family history.
Some wrongful death plaintiffs express concern about the possibility that the victim was partially responsible. For example, the victim killed in a drunk driving accident was speeding. In this scenario, it is possible that they were partly at fault. However, California is a pure comparative negligence state– meaning that the plaintiff can still recover financial compensation as long as they were less than 100 percent at-fault.
An experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorney would explain that the amount of damages that the plaintiff incurred will be reduced in proportion with the degree of the victim’s fault. For instance, if the plaintiff suffered $1.2 million worth of damages, and it is found that the victim was 50 percent responsible for the accident, the plaintiff would still be awarded $600,000.
Contact our team of El Monte wrongful death lawyers
If you have lost a loved one because of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another party, you need the services of a compassionate Los Angeles wrongful death attorney at Salamati Law. Call us 24/7 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an El Monte personal injury lawyer. We will review your circumstances and determine your legal options. Because we work on contingency, there is never a fee unless we win. While most cases are settled, we will go to trial when necessary.