Posts tagged wrongful death

Anniversary of Las Vegas Shooting Marked with Memorials

October 5, 2018 News, Personal Injury Lawsuits, Wrongful Death Claims

Monday, October 1, 2018, marked the one-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting that took the lives of 58 attendees

Group of people holding candle vigil

Monday, October 1, 2018, marked the one-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting that took the lives of 58 attendees of the Route 91 Harvest music festival. Hundreds more were injured in the attack. People in and around Las Vegas marked the event with memorials. Meanwhile, investigations have still not revealed a clear motive for the massacre.

Shooting anniversary marked by memorials and homecoming

Officials throughout Nevada recognized the enormity of the anniversary. Governor Brian Sandoval ordered that all state and federal flags fly at half staff from sunrise to sunset. The Las Vegas Portraits Project, a display of artwork of the victims, is on display at the Clark County Government Center through October 19. A shooting survivor from Los Angeles, Dennis Guerrero, started a nonprofit called LoveWins and it is raising money to help the families left behind by the 58 who died.

Remarkably, just a few days before the anniversary, Rosemarie Melanson was released from the hospital. There were over 800 people injured in the shooting and Melanson was the last of the victims to remain hospitalized. She suffered bullet wounds to several organs and was placed on life support immediately after the shooting. Miraculously, she survived, and after nearly a year in the hospital, she finally returned home.

Federal court denies request of venue owner MGM

More than 20,000 people were attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival when Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Since then, more than 2,000 people have either sued or threatened to sue those connected with the venue or the shooter.

Hundreds of victims have joined in five lawsuits in state courts in California and Nevada, naming as defendants MGM Resorts International for allegedly not having proper security procedures and trained staff; concert organizer Live Nation for allegedly not having adequate exits and trained employees; and the estate of shooter Stephen Paddock.

MGM, the owner of Mandalay Bay, took a highly unusual step and filed a federal lawsuit naming about 2,000 people who were have sued or threatened to sue the company, requesting that the court issue a declaratory judgment stating that MGM is not liable, and requesting that all of the lawsuits against it be pooled together in multi-district litigation (MDL). Earlier this month, MGM’s requests were denied, allowing existing and future lawsuits against it to proceed in state courts without being transferred to an MDL docket.

Fighting for rights of injury victims in California

Los Angeles personal injury attorney Sean Salamati understands the legal battle that the shooting victims and their families face. The Salamati Law Firm has dedicated the past two decades to fighting for the rights of personal injury victims in LA and around Southern California. If you have been injured and believe someone else bears legal responsibility, call today to schedule a free confidential consultation.

Additional resources on Las Vegas shooting updates:

  1. Bloomberg, MGM Resorts Can’t Centralize Mass Shooting Lawsuits Panel Rules, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-03/mgm-resorts-can-t-centralize-mass-shooting-lawsuits-panel-rules
  2. Fox News, Las Vegas shooting: Memorial events mark 1-year anniversary as massacre motive still shrouded in mystery, https://www.foxnews.com/us/las-vegas-shooting-memorial-events-mark-1-year-anniversary-as-massacre-motive-still-shrouded-in-mystery
  3. Fox News, Las Vegas massacre survivor leaves hospital year after shooting, https://www.foxnews.com/us/las-vegas-massacre-survivor-leaves-hospital-year-after-shooting
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What To Do When the Family Breadwinner Dies

October 4, 2018 Wrongful Death Claims

Suffering the loss of a family breadwinner is one of the most difficult situations we can encounter in life. Grief

Wrongful Death report and gavel in a court.Suffering the loss of a family breadwinner is one of the most difficult situations we can encounter in life. Grief may make you physically ill, depressed, or anxious. You and your friends and family may miss the deceased person every day.

A Painful Challenge

You also may suffer financial duress. The family breadwinner may have been responsible for all or the greatest proportion of your family’s income. In the aftermath of the breadwinner’s death, you may have to make major changes in your life, such as moving from the home you shared, if it has become unaffordable. You may become unable to pay bills, or become fearful of them mounting up.

You may need to retrain yourself for a job, or a higher-paying position. You may also be left with medical bills and funeral or burial expenses.

If the Family Breadwinner Died Due to Negligence

All of this can be hard enough, but if your family breadwinner died due to the negligence of another party, it can make your pain feel that much worse.

There is a potential solution to the financial duress, however. A wrongful death suit claim can seek financial compensation associated with the death of a breadwinner. Wrongful death compensation can be awarded to replace some or all of the support a family received from a breadwinner, both financial and emotional, for example. It can pay for medical bills related to the cause of death, and for funeral and burial costs.

Wrongful death claims can also seek financial compensation for loss of companionship and consortium, loss of guidance and training, and loss of household services.

Wrongful death claims in California may be brought if the death was caused by a wrongful act or negligence of another party. Negligence means that the other party knew a condition or event was unsafe, had responsibility to ensure that it was safe, had enough time to make it safe, and did not.

A person who died from falling off a beam on a construction site, for example, may have fallen because safety equipment or training was not provided or was not adequate to prevent the fall.

A wrongful death claim is a civil suit asking for financial compensation. It is not a criminal suit asking for the negligent party to be punished. However, wrongful death suits can also serve as a deterrent to negligent parties for their future actions.

Under California law, wrongful death claims may be brought by a breadwinner’s spouse, domestic partner, next living descendent or heir (parents or siblings), or financial dependents, such as partners, children, stepchildren, or parents.

If You Need a Southern California Wrongful Death Attorney

If you think that negligence contributed to the death of your loved one, call experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorney Sean Salamati today. Se habla español. We will fight to see that justice is done.

If you agree to work with Salamati Law Firm’s team, you owe us nothing unless we win your case, and payment will come from the final jury award or settlement amount.

Additional Resources:

  1. Brody, Jane L. “When a Spouse Dies, Resilience Can Be Uneven.” New York Times, September 26, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/well/family/when-a-spouse-dies-resilience-can-be-uneven.html
  2. Manning, Margaret. “Losing a Partner: How to Recover from the Loss of a Loved One.” Huffington Post, October 2, 2013. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-manning/losing-a-partner-how-to-recover-from-the-loss-of-a-loved-one_b_4029121.html
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DUI Deaths: Can the Bar That Sold the Alcohol Be Held Liable?

August 7, 2018 Auto Accidents

Every year, hundreds of innocent people are killed on California’s roads by intoxicated drivers.  According to CA traffic statistics, alcohol-impaired

Every year, hundreds of innocent people are killed on California’s roads by intoxicated drivers.  According to CA traffic statistics, alcohol-impaired accident fatalities increased to 1,059 in 2017.  When it comes to seeking justice in DUI deaths, can the bar that sold alcohol to the driver be held liable for damages?

Dram Shop Laws

A dram shop law is a statutory provision that holds a bar or business establishment liable for selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron who causes injury or death as a result of their drunken state. At present, 30 U.S. states have comprehensive dram shop laws that allow liquor stores, bars or restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages to be sued for damages in such cases.

California is among a handful of states that limits civil liability under dram shop laws. Civil Code Section 1714 affords protections for bar owners and other business establishments from liability in situations where a patron drinks alcohol at their premises, leaves and subsequently injures or kills another person in a drunk driving accident.

Civil Code 1714 mandates: “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care…the furnishing of alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon another by an intoxicated person.”

While a bar owner may not be charged with a felony or sued for civil damages under California dram shop provisions, the bar owner can face misdemeanor charges, fines and possible jail time.

The reasoning behind this legislation is that it can be challenging to determine who is to blame if a drunk person injures another in an auto accident after leaving a bar or other establishment, since strict liability infers that the bar was directly responsible simply by serving alcohol. In other words, the consumption of alcohol, not the serving of it, is the proximate cause of the accident.

Liability for serving alcohol to a minor in California

California dram shop law does have one notable exception to this civil immunity. If a bar, restaurant or other commercial purveyor serves alcohol to a minor who is obviously inebriated at the time of service, they can be sued for any resulting injury or death caused by this individual.

Consequently, any club, bar, concert venue or establishment can be held liable for wrongful death or personal injury if they served alcohol to a person under the age of 21 who was visibly drunk and later caused an accident that killed or injured another.

Los Angeles DUI accident attorney

If you have questions about dram shop laws in California or need experienced representation from a DUI accident attorney Los Angeles trusts, contact the Salamati Law Firm for a free, private consultation.

Additional Resources on California DUI Deaths:

  1. ABC California, ENFORCEMENT AND VIOIATIONS https://www.abc.ca.gov/questions/enforcement_faq1.html
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures, AM SHOP CIVIL LIABILITY AND CRIMINAL PENALTY STATE STATUTES http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/dram-shop-liability-state-statutes.aspx
  3. OTS California, 2017 Annual Report https://www.ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Publications_and_Reports/doc/CA_OTS_2017_Annual_Report.pdf
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Victims of Las Vegas Shooting File Lawsuits in California

December 10, 2017 News

The largest mass shooting in U.S. history took place on October 1, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept, blue tone

The largest mass shooting in U.S. history took place on October 1, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The alleged shooter, Stephen Paddock, killed 58 people, injured another 500, and impacted countless other witnesses in attendance and families of victims. Hundreds of individuals, including victims and family members, are seeking legal recourse through a series of lawsuits in California.

Though the shooting took place in Nevada, the lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuits were filed in Southern California because most of the victims were treated here and it is the corporate home of the defendant Live Nation.

Mandalay Bay Hotel and festival organizers face Las Vegas shooting lawsuit

Last month, more than 450 victims and family members filed five lawsuits against Mandalay Bay Resort – owned by MGM Resorts International – and Live Nation – promoter of the Rt. 91 Harvest Festival. The lawsuits allege that the businesses did not do enough to prevent or minimize the attack.

According to the plaintiffs, Mandalay Bay, the hotel where Paddock was staying and from where he allegedly engaged in the shooting, unreasonably failed to prevent Paddock from stockpiling weapons in his room. It is also accused of breaching a duty by not calling the police for several minutes after Paddock reportedly shot one of its security guards. Live Nation is accused of not having adequate exits at the music festival and improperly trained employees.

Live Nation has not commented on the lawsuits. MGM Resorts, however, released a statement saying, “The incident that took place on October 1st was a terrible tragedy perpetrated by an evil man. These kinds of lawsuits are not unexpected and we intend to defend ourselves against them. That said, out of respect for the victims, we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”

Las Vegas shooting victims face financial challenges

Many victims of the Las Vegas tragedy are in the midst of economic strain as a result of the shooting. Several funds have been set up for their benefit but the number of victims means many will receive any help toward medical bills and other expenses.

The largest concerted effort to help the victims, the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, has received a combined $16 million across several platforms including gofundme and a bank-hosted collection. However, with hundreds of victims, organizers announced the need to prioritize claims in such a way that some of those who were shot will not be able to collect from the fund.

It has been estimated that to match the payout to Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting victims, the Las Vegas Victim’s Fund would need at least $560 million. The efforts of the contributors are laudable but a favorable outcome in the recently-filed lawsuits could help those uncompensated victims pay outstanding medical bills and catch up financially.

The Salamati Law Firm fights aggressively to ensure injury victims see justice served. To speak with one of our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys, call 1-888-259-4060.

Additional Information about Las Vegas Shooting Lawsuits:

  1. Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Victims’ Fund to stop collecting donations Jan. 31, https://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/shootings/las-vegas-victims-fund-to-stop-collecting-donations-jan-31/
  2. ABC7, Stanton sisters who survived Las Vegas shooting say they won’t get help from $11M fund due to proposed rules, http://abc7.com/oc-sisters-who-survived-vegas-shooting-say-they-wont-get-money-from-fund/2710576/
  3. Reuters, Hundreds of Las Vegas shooting victims file lawsuits in California court https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lasvegas-shooting-lawsuit/hundreds-of-las-vegas-shooting-victims-file-lawsuits-in-california-court-idUSKBN1DK2OX
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How Much Does It Cost to Die in California?

October 26, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

Other than cars and homes, funerals are among the most expensive purchases consumers make in the United States, says the

Headstones in a cemetary with many red tulipsOther than cars and homes, funerals are among the most expensive purchases consumers make in the United States, says the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. Over the past decade, the average cost of a funeral has spiked nearly 40 percent, pushing some families, who are already mourning the loss of a loved one, into dire economic straits.

When a death is sudden and traumatic, families often make buying decisions based on pure emotion, wanting to purchase the finest casket and grandest service for their relative, without thinking about the bills.

Then there are those who suffer from protracted illnesses or degenerative diseases, tallying up massive bills for hospital stays, doctor visits and treatments before they pass. The underlying problem is that people don’t like to talk about their own mortality. It’s a depressing, morbid topic that tends to be avoided until it’s time to call the funeral home and make arrangements.

Given that every person must eventually face this difficult part of life, the costs of dying should not be overlooked. One of the best ways to ensure your loved ones don’t have to make these decisions during periods of tremendous emotional distress is to plan ahead.

It can also help save money. Cremation or burial? What type of flowers, casket or car service? How much does a burial plot cost in southern California?

By understanding the costs associated with dying, families can plan and budget accordingly.

Costs of dying in California

  • Transfer of remains to the funeral home: $200-$300
  • Cremation: Roughly 70 percent of Californians chose cremation over burial. This generally equates to lower costs, compared to other states. The median cost for a “basic” cremation in Los Angeles County ranges between $550 and $2,000.
  • Immediate burial (not including casket cost): Transfer to the funeral home, placement into the casket, and transfer to the grave site without formal viewing. From $650 to more than $4,300.
  • Casket: Funeral homes make big profits on caskets, marking them up nearly 300 percent above cost. The least expensive wood caskets average about $600, while metal caskets sell for between $1,500 and $4,000.
  • Funeral transportation: Use of a service car or hearse will cost between $150 and $320.
  • Embalming:  Embalming is necessary for open-casket funerals and usually costs between $500-700. Additional cosmetics, hairdressing or preparations will cost an extra $200-$400.
  • Viewing and ceremony:  Funeral homes charge, on average, $420 for viewing, and $500 for the funeral ceremony.
  • Burial plot: land scarcity in CA is driving up prices. At Whittier’s Rose Hills Memorial Park, plot prices start at $3,500 and go up. A crypt in Inglewood Park Cemetery comes with a price tag of $10,000.
  • Gravestone: Between $800 and $3,000 depending on size and adornment.
  • Clergy honorarium: Between $200 and $300
  • Basic service fees charged by funeral home: Includes filing paperwork, ordering death certificate, proper storage of the remains and overhead fees: $1,000 – $2,500
  • California death certificate: $14

According to data from the National Funeral Directors Association, the average funeral today costs between $8,000 and $10,000. In 2013, California Senate Bill 658 was passed, requiring funeral homes to post detailed price lists online. Those without websites are legally required to present all options and price points to consumers.

As veteran wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles, the team at Salamati Law encourages families to plan ahead and discuss their wishes for burial or cremation, before you’re confronted with a crisis situation.

Additional Resources on Cost of Dying in California:

  1. Orange County Register, What’s the price of death? In Orange County, funeral prices vary widely http://www.ocregister.com/2015/11/02/whats-the-price-of-death-in-orange-county-funeral-prices-vary-widely/
  2. HuffPost, This Is How Much An Average Funeral Costs https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-much-does-a-funeral-cost_us_5804c784e4b0f42ad3d264de
  3. US Funerals Online, Arranging a Funeral or Cremation in California http://www.us-funerals.com/funeral-articles/funerals-and-cremations-in-california.html#.WfD4z2hSxPY
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Coping with the Accidental Death of a Loved One

July 14, 2017 Auto Accidents

We all realize that death is inevitable down the road, but the sudden loss of a loved one or family member

Wrongful DeathWe all realize that death is inevitable down the road, but the sudden loss of a loved one or family member can leave you grief-stricken and paralyzed with feelings of despair. We simply assume that our mothers, fathers, siblings and children will reach old age. Yet unforeseeable accidents, illness and disease can cause death to come much sooner than expected. The traumatic, accidental death of a loved one can shatter the world as you know it, leaving you bewildered and shaken. Survivors are quickly thrust into a new, frightening reality, one which may seem to have no rhyme or reason.

How do bereaved survivors cope with the death of a loved one? The grieving process is different for everyone. It is not uncommon to experience intense feelings of guilt, remorse, anger, depression and hopelessness. Feelings of sadness, anger and disbelief often come in waves, usually triggered by small reminders that the deceased is forever gone.

During these emotionally challenging times, it’s important to allow yourself plenty of time to process this loss and assimilate it into your daily life. It’s equally important to reach out to friends, family or church for support.

Coping with accidental death

There is certainly no “right” way to grieve, but many find it helpful to have some support along the way. There are many short and long-term coping methods that can help survivors through the painful grieving process and move forward with their lives.

  • Focus on one day at a time, and give yourself the time and space to grieve.
  • Be accepting of your own feeling and emotions, and be prepared for everything from numbness and fear to disabling sadness.
  • Don’t bottle up your feelings – allow yourself to experience the pain and cry.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. It’s important to speak with friends, relatives or spiritual mentors about your loss.
  • Encourage yourself to take part in social activities and engagements. Isolation only encourages sadness and depression.
  • Take some time to consider those who are important in your life.
  • Try and maintain a normal routine, whether it’s taking the kids to school or going to your weekly yoga class.
  • Get enough sleep and take care of your physical wellbeing– this will go a long way to helping you feel emotionally stable.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs as crutches to get relief.
  • Engage in physical activity that gets the heart pumping, which naturally helps combat depression and relieves stress.
  • If you need to process the loss with others, seek out a support group in your area or try counseling with a therapist.
  • Pursue activities that comfort, sustain and recharge. Consider learning a new skill or taking up an interesting hobby.

The Salamati Law Firm is here to help

The accidental death of a loved one is a sudden loss that brings sudden grief. Here at The Salamati Law Firm, we offer compassionate, effective representation in wrongful death cases throughout Southern California. We invite you to schedule a private consultation with Sean Salamati, a veteran Los Angeles car accident lawyer who is on your side. Call 888-259-4060 to learn more.

Additional resources for coping with grief:

  1. Journey of Hearts, Dealing with Sudden, Accidental or Traumatic Death http://www.journeyofhearts.org/grief/accident2.html
  2. Focus on the Family, Moving Forward: Dealing With Grief http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/emotional-health/moving-forward-dealing-with-grief
  3. Everett Clinic, Coping with the unexpected death of a loved one http://www.everettclinic.com/blog/coping-unexpected-death-loved-one
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Fair Payment for Pain: Calculating Value in California Injury Lawsuits

April 11, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits

California victims of accidents caused by someone else’s negligent acts or omissions are afforded the opportunity to seek monetary compensation for,

California victims of accidents caused by someone else’s negligent acts or omissions are afforded the opportunity to seek monetary compensation for, amongst other damages, the physical pain and emotional suffering experienced as a result of the event. While damages for lost wages, medical expenses already incurred, and property damage may be easier to quantify, those related to “pain & suffering” can be assessed and maximized with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney.

Typical categories of pain and suffering damages in California injury cases

Damages related to pain and suffering may be awarded in personal injury cases for:

  • Actual physical pain and discomfort
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Personal and familial inconvenience
  • Embarrassment
  • Damage to personal reputation
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of marital relationship
  • Loss of enjoyment of previous activity levels
  • Disfigurement
  • Aggravation of existing physical injury or impairment

Relevant factors in pain and suffering valuations

Assigning a dollar figure to a serious injury is rarely straightforward. Variables to be considered when calculating the value of damages include the victim’s age at the time of the accident, his or her family and marital situation, his or her educational background, employment record, health history, estimated recovery time and information gleaned from medical and psychological experts who can testify to the nature of the pain likely experienced under the circumstances.

Important caveats for prospective injury claimants

There are situations in which an injury victim in California will be barred from obtaining compensation for pain and suffering. Anyone convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the event in question will be unable to recover for losses of this type, as will an auto accident plaintiff whose vehicle was underinsured or uninsured at the time, unless the at-fault driver was found guilty of DUI.

California’s doctrine of pure comparative fault

In addition to the above limitations on pain and suffering claims, courts in California operate under a doctrine of pure comparative fault when it comes to assigning liability for damages of this type. Though this does not serve to bar plaintiffs from recovering payment from a responsible party, it does mean that any financial award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault borne by the plaintiff themselves for what occurred.

Aggressive, timely advocacy for Southern California’s injured

Because the time to pursue damages for pain and suffering or wrongful death is strictly limited by California statute, it is critical for victims to reach out to an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible after sustaining serious harm. Los Angeles personal injury attorney Sean Salamati will waste no time in exploring the facts, enlisting reputable experts and tenaciously pursuing the maximum damages allowed by the law. Assert your legal rights by calling The Law Offices of Sean Salamati today.

Additional resources on California pain and suffering damages

  1. California Legislative Information, Cal. Civ. Proc. §335.1, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=CCP&division=&title=2.&part=2.&chapter=3.&article=
  2. Judicial Council of California – Civil Jury Instructions, No. 405: Comparative Fault of Plaintiff, http://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/documents/CACI_2017_Edition.pdf
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What Evidence Is Needed in a Wrongful Death Case?

March 16, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

“Wrongful death” is the name the law gives to a death that resulted from another party’s negligence. If the negligence

Wrongful Death“Wrongful death” is the name the law gives to a death that resulted from another party’s negligence. If the negligence had resulted in an injury, it would be termed personal injury. If it results in death or conditions that lead to death, however, it is termed wrongful death. If your loved one has died from a car accident due to another driver’s carelessness or violation of traffic laws, for example, you may be able to bring a wrongful death suit.

Wrongful death cases also need to show that the other party, whether an individual or a business, knew or should have known that the actions or conditions that caused the death were dangerous and that they should have acted responsibly.

What types of evidence do you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Your wrongful death attorney will need certain pieces of evidence in order to obtain justice for you and your family. Evidence required by the court in wrongful death claims include:

A Death Certificate

Death certificates are official documents that contain the cause of death as determined by the coroner. If a slip and fall caused fatal injuries, these injuries will be noted on the death certificate.

Police Reports

If the wrongful death of your loved one was due to an accident or other circumstance in which the police were called, the police reports will be needed. Be sure to obtain and keep copies of any police report in connection with an accident or investigation as soon as possible.

Medical Records

Some causes of wrongful death may be found in medical records. If your loved one died as a result of being given the wrong medication in a hospital, for example, all medications would be noted as part of the medical records. Medical records can also help determine if notations in the records were falsified or removed, or changed at a later date.

Autopsy Reports

If you believe that medical malpractice caused your loved one’s death, you need to request a full autopsy. Only this can indicate whether medical error was the cause. Surgical errors, for example, are indicated by a thorough examination of the body. If an error in medication, whether type or dosage, caused the death, a toxicology report will provide evidence.

Evidence of a Duty of Care Relationship Between Negligent Entity and Deceased Person

In order to bring a wrongful death suit, it must be shown that the negligent entity and your loved one had a relationship in which the former owed a duty of care to your loved one. A doctor is always to do no harm, for example; that is a doctor’s duty of care. All citizens need to drive safely; they have breached the responsibility if they’ve done otherwise.

In other cases, proving duty of care may be slightly more complicated. If your loved one’s car was hit by another vehicle, and that vehicle had a manufacturer’s defect that caused it to brake improperly, the duty of care might be owed by the manufacturer of the vehicle. Manufacturers must abide by safe practices in making and recalling products.

Tax Returns and Financial Records

Loss of financial support and loss of value of household services are among the financial damages that can be sought in a wrongful death case in California. Tax returns and other financial records are the best way for your attorney to estimate this loss. Other financial records, such as paystubs, will help the court determine the financial loss. Records of investments and their returns, especially if the deceased person handled all the investments, are also needed.

Family Records

The documentation required for a wrongful death case is in part needed so that potential damages can be estimated. In California, one can receive damages awarded by the court for medical expenses related to the final illness or condition, loss of companionship and consortium for spouses, loss of training and guidance for children, funeral expenses, and burial expenses. Any and all records related to these should be gathered and given to your attorney. Loss of companionship and consortium can depend on length of the marriage, so a marriage certificate should be part of the documentation.

If you need a wrongful death lawyer

If you feel your loved one was the victim of wrongful death, call us today. The Salamati Law Firm is experienced in personal injury and wrongful death cases. We will review your case at no charge to you. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.

Additional wrongful death lawsuit resources

  1. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), 3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult), https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html
  2. California Legislative Information, CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE – CCP, ARTICLE 6. Wrongful Death [377.60 – 377.62] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=377.60.&lawCode=CCP
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Wrongful Death and Survival Actions: What’s the Difference?

March 16, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

When a family member dies as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful actions, California law allows you to

When a family member dies as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful actions, California law allows you to file a wrongful death lawsuit (Civil Procedure §377.60) and/or a survival action lawsuit (Civil Procedure §377.30). Understanding the differences between the two claims will help you recover maximum compensation, as well as avoid disagreements with other beneficiaries. The two claims differ in:

  • Type of compensation that may be pursued
  • Who can claim just compensation
  • Payout procedures
  • Tax requirements

Wrongful death lawsuits in California

You may file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one has died as a result of another’s negligence or wrongdoing.

  1. Compensation: Wrongful death lawsuits compensate family members for loss of love, support, training, guidance, assistive services, protection, companionship, consortium, and the loss to society. They can recover money for funeral and burial expenses.
  2. What’s Not Included: Notably, wrongful death lawsuits do not provide compensation for the survivors’ grief, sorrow, pain, and suffering, nor does it allow the award of punitive damages.
  3. Claimants: The decedent’s next of kin are entitled to recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. The court will determine the degree of dependency for the surviving spouse or domestic partner, parents, and children under 18. In some circumstances, dependent grandchildren and adult children may have a valid claim. In some cases, the spouse may receive everything and the adult children nothing.
  4. Deductions: Since the award is given to the surviving family members, compensation is tax-free.

Survival Cause of Action in California

You may file a survival cause of action if the decedent did not immediately die from injuries suffered.

  1. Compensation: Survival action lawsuits compensate the decedent’s estate for medical expenses and lost wages the individual would have the right to claim had he or she survived. Other compensation may include punitive and exemplary damages, as well as penalties designed to punish wrongdoers.
  2. What’s Not Included: Burial and funeral expenses are not included. The California statute also does not include damages for the decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement prior to death.
  3. Claimants: The estate’s personal representative or successor-in-interest can file a claim on behalf of the decedent. A probate estate must be set up before compensation is given out to the respective parties. Non-family members (such as churches, charities, or other specific individuals) can receive proceeds from a survival action if it is noted in the decedent’s will. Survival action proceeds are distributed pursuant to the will or the laws of intestacy in the absence of a will.
  4. Deductions: Since compensation is given to the decedent, survival actions are subject to federal and estate tax. If the deceased has unpaid bills – credit cards, medical bills, or other debts – these creditors are paid before the heirs receive their money.

Why does it matter whether a plaintiff files wrongful death or survival actions?

Hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney will help you navigate the complexities of California law. If your loved one had many unpaid bills and medical expenses, filing a survival action may result in very minimal compensation for surviving kin. However, it is necessary if it’s very important for you to punish those responsible for your loved one’s death.

A lawyer is a valuable friend who can educate you on your legal options and advocate for maximum compensation. The attorneys at The Salamati Law Firm in Southern California have an in-depth knowledge of the law that will help you decide whether to file for wrongful death, survival action, or both. Contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Additional “wrongful death vs. survival action” resources

  1. California Legislative Information, CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE – CCP, ARTICLE 6. Wrongful Death [377.60 – 377.62] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=377.60.&lawCode=CCP
  2. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), 3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult), https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html
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Distribution of Wrongful Death Settlements in California

March 15, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

Every state has specific laws regarding the distribution of a wrongful death settlement, which generally includes reparations for losses including

Wrongful Death report and gavel in a court.Every state has specific laws regarding the distribution of a wrongful death settlement, which generally includes reparations for losses including funeral and burial costs, hospital and medical bills incurred, loss of household support, loss of marital relations, loss of future financial support, loss of household services, loss of love, society and companionship, and loss of guidance for minor children. Under California Civil Code §377.60, heirs are not able to recover punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.

California wrongful death statutes stipulate who is entitled to make a claim against the decedent’s estate, allowing the surviving spouse, domestic partner (if the partnership was registered), dependent parents, children and dependent minors to recover for the untimely death of a family member.

As is the case in many other states, wrongful deaths in California may give rise to only one civil action. This means that all relatives and domestic partners who may be entitled to compensation must bring the wrongful death jointly, as one group. Because of this legality, there are often questions about how the courts distribute a wrongful death settlement among multiple heirs.

How is the wrongful death settlement divided?

In California, it is largely up to the family members and heirs filing the wrongful death claim to agree upon how much each party should receive out of the settlement proceeds. In a perfect world, claimants will agree to split the monies evenly, or to allocate larger amounts to those who will suffer most from the death, or who are the most disadvantaged financially.

However, there are some cases where claimants want more than their “fair share,” thus depriving children or other remaining family of adequate proceeds from the verdict or settlement. If the family members cannot come to a consensus about how the monies will be distributed, the court will be tasked with dividing the damages, looking at the financial needs and future losses of each claimant. As an example, a surviving widower may suffer lost financial support, while dependent children under the age of 18 may have greater economic needs for education and support compared to older siblings.

At trial, a California jury will assess the nature of each surviving relative’s damages and losses and attempt to distribute the award as fairly as possible. In situations where the decedent’s insurance policy is limited, the funds would be allocated in proportion to the settlement monies.

Some families turn to mediation or binding arbitration to hear each heir’s claim, and make a binding decision regarding how the estate monies will be divided.

If there is no agreement as to the proportional shares of a wrongful death settlement, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney to determine the best strategy.

Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer

If your family has lost a loved one and you need the compassionate assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, please contact The Salamati Law Firm for a free consultation. Though no amount of money can bring back a family member or loved one, effective legal representation can help ensure that proper compensation is procured, reducing the financial burdens of such a traumatic loss.

Sean Salamati represents clients throughout Southern California. To arrange a no-obligation case review, please call today.

Additional Wrongful Death Resources:

  1. California Legislature, Wrongful Death  [377.60 – 377.62] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=377.60.&lawCode=CCP
  2. FindLaw, California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/code-of-civil-procedure/ccp-sect-377-60.html
  3. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult) https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html
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