What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a person dies in an accident because of the fault of another person or entity, the former’s family members are entitled to bring what is called a wrongful death claim. The purpose of the said claim or lawsuit is for the survivors of the deceased, who is called the decedent, to seek compensation for the losses they incurred because of their loved one’s sudden demise. It is not unusual for such a lawsuit to undergo a trial, which is lengthy and tedious, but there are others that are settled immediately. If anything, it is imperative for the survivors of the decedent to hire a wrongful death lawyer, and it must be immediately so that they may not miss out on the compensation they may potentially receive.
Most wrongful death lawsuits stem from a lot of personal injury accidents; from motor vehicle accidents, mishaps inside a residence or commercial establishment, workplace accidents, to animal bites and attacks. Complicated ones such as medical malpractice, mishaps involving the use of defective products (product liability), and aviation and boating accidents, are also involved in a lot of wrongful death claims. Liable parties may include an individual or group of individuals, entity/ies, and even government agencies. The lawsuits should prove that they are legally responsible for the death of the decedents, showing that they acted negligently and with intent.
Basically, a lawsuit is brought by a personal representative on behalf of the surviving members of the decedent. In legal terms, those who are entitled to damages in a wrongful death claim are called the “real parties in interest.” Also, every state has its own set of statutes that provides which individual or groups are only allowed to bring such a claim. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit in California can be brought by a personal representative on behalf of any of the following survivors of the decedent:
- The surviving spouse and children, including the reputed spouse and children;
- The domestic partner;
- The parents, surviving siblings, or children of the deceased siblings;
- The grandparents; and/or
- Any individual/s financially dependent on the decedent at the time of the latter’s death.
Moreover, claims of wrongful death are subject to statutes of limitations or time limits set forth by the state. For instance, California laws require the surviving family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles within two years of the date the decedent died. Failure to do so would cause them to lose out on the potential damages they may be able to secure from the liable party or parties.
It is worth noting that most wrongful death claims involve multiple members of the family that are closely related to the decedent. This raises the issue of how much damages are awarded for each family member. According to a California lawyer who has won wrongful death lawsuit settlements, once the case is successfully in favor of the family members, the jury usually allots them a lump sum; it is up to the family members to split the lump sum among them.
Meanwhile, if a loved one of yours died in an accident and you believe it is due to the intent and negligence of another person or entity, then it is a must that you immediately speak with an attorney who specializes in wrongful death claims. Doing so will give you the chance to seek the justice you deserve from the liable party because of your loved one’s death.
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