Honoring Your Loved One by Seeking Justice
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or intentional act of another, your family is facing the both the loss of someone dear to you and the fact the death should not have occurred. You have the right to seek justice, as well as compensation, in a wrongful death claim. You are not alone with your loss. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, 120,859 Americans died in accidents. AgnewBrusavich has helped countless families throughout the South Bay get the justice their loved one deserves by filing a claim and recovering damages.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death lawsuit could provide compensation to the family of a person who died due to the negligence or intentional acts of another. Such a lawsuit must be brought within two years from the time the death occurred. To win a wrongful death lawsuit the plaintiff must show the defendant was negligent (or intentionally killed the deceased). It must be shown the negligence was the proximate, direct cause of the death.
Wrongful death lawsuits can occur any time one's negligence or intentional actions caused another person's death. Such a lawsuit can occur in the following types of cases:
- Nursing home negligence: Unfortunately, injuries or illnesses caused by nursing home staff can often prove fatal given the vulnerability of residents, all of whom are older adults and may already have pre-existing conditions or health risks. A fall that can give anyone else a bruise, for example, may result in a broken hip or other complications that lead to death in an older adult. Older adults are also more likely to pass away from infections and other illnesses they get from residents or staff members.
- Product liability: Defective products can directly cause or contribute to countless deaths every year. Auto defects like poor braking systems, for example, can lead to fatal car crashes, while other products can explode or cause fires.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Each year, more than 300,000 Americans die in car accidents. Car crashes are typically caused by human errors such as speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and reckless driving, though road defects and auto defects can contribute to crashes, too. Motorcyclists are more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents because their lack of protection features like airbags and seat belts make them particularly vulnerable. Truck accidents are also known to cause severe injuries and fatalities because of their size, weight, and force.
Depending on the type of case, there are different standards of proof required to be successful. In some cases, such as product liability or dog bites, strict liability is applied, and the plaintiff does not need to show negligence, only that some prohibited act or outcome happened and that death resulted. If that can be shown, the defendant is automatically liable.
Family Members & Those Dependent on the Deceased Can Bring Legal Action
Under California law, the following can be plaintiffs in a wrongful death action:
- A surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Children and grandchildren of the deceased
- If there are no surviving children or grandchildren, those who would be entitled to the decedent's property under state intestacy laws
- Stepchildren or parents who were dependent on the deceased for support
- Any minor who lived in the deceased's home for 180 days prior to the death and who depended on that person for half or more of his/her support
Any damages may be awarded under California law that “under all the circumstances of the case, may be just.” The law permits the estate of a deceased victim to recover damages that the decedent would have been entitled to if he or she survived, including penalties and punitive damages, but not including damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement.
California law also permits the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit to recover additional damages:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of any future earnings the deceased person would have gained, had he or she lived
- Any benefits (including medical benefits or 401K benefits) that were lost
- Pain and suffering by the survivors caused by the death
- Loss of companionship
Our lawyers look out for our clients and care about your future. Call our Torrance wrongful death attorneys to get started on your case at (310) 793-1400. We offer free consultations in English and Spanish.