When a loved one dies because of the negligence of a person or a medical professional, a wrongful death may have occurred. Those who lose a loved one to an accident must deal not only with the emotional trauma of the loss, but they must also deal with financial hardships, particularly if the decedent was a primary wage earner for the family.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a third party, call Los Angeles wrongful death attorney Joshua Glotzer to discuss your case. Mr. Glotzer has 20 years experience successfully helping families recover after losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. Our consultation is free and you pay nothing unless we win.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the economic losses of the survivors. Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, certain family members may sue the negligent party when the injuries resulted in the death of a loved one.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek compensation for the death of a loved one when negligence is involved. Under California Code of Civil Procedure 337.60, those who may file a wrongful death lawsuit include the following:
- Spouses may file a wrongful death claim in order to recover compensation for future earnings as well as loss of consortium. While emotional distress is not generally accounted for in a wrongful death claim, survivors may be able to recover damages for things the deceased would have provided if he or she had lived such as protection, aid, comfort, advice and guidance.
- Putative spouses and domestic partners can file a wrongful death claim to recover the same compensation a spouse would. A putative spouse is a person who had a good faith belief he or she was married to the deceased.
- Minor children, including adopted children, of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for loss of parental guidance and companionship and loss of future financial support resulting from the death of the parent.
- The parents of the decedent may also file a claim for the loss of their minor or adult child.
How Long Do I Have To File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A statute of limitation is the amount of time family members or the estate has to file a wrongful death claim following the death of a loved one.
Under California Code of Civil Procedure §335.1, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date the decedent died. If the case is not filed within that time period, family members may lose the right to file the claim at all.
If the wrongful death claim is based on medical malpractice, then pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure §340.5, a party has three years from the date of injury or “one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first.”
Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
A number of different damages are available when a California wrongful death claim is filed. The damages are divided into two different categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Damages Include:
- Burial and funeral expenses;
- Any hospital or medical expenses associated with the deceased person’s final illness or injury;
- Lost wages, including any income the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to earn in the future had the wrongful death not occurred.
Non-Economic Damages include:
- The loss of services: which refers to the value of services provided by a loved one (housework, child care, etc.)
- Loss of affection (also known as loss of consortium)
- Loss of training and advice: this refers to the moral support and guidance a child would have received from a deceased parent
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
To prevail in a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the defendant was negligent, and that his or her negligence caused the death. Negligence refers to the manner in which a reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances. For example, if a person dies on the operating table because the anesthesiologist administers too much anesthesia, then the question becomes whether a properly trained anesthesiologist, under the exact same circumstances, would have acted differently.
The law says there is a duty of care owed. When this duty of care is breached, and those actions result in the death of another, negligence has occurred. An experienced wrongful death attorney will carefully assess the circumstances of the death of your loved one to determine whether there was negligence, whether that negligence caused the death, and whether damages resulted from that death.
What are the Main Causes of Wrongful Death?
The main cause of wrongful death among those younger than thirty-five is automobile collisions. The second-largest cause of wrongful death, particularly among senior citizens, is medical malpractice.
The remainder of the primary causes of wrongful deaths include falls, workplace accidents, industrial accidents, drowning, boating accidents, train accidents, asbestos exposure and manufacturing defects.
Other Issues Related to Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death cases can be very complex, and, as such, are best left to an experienced personal injury attorney. We will conduct a thorough investigation in order to build your wrongful death case and will ensure your rights are protected and preserved.
When making a determination of the damages to be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, the court will consider the relationship between the deceased and the person bringing the lawsuit, the “value” of the services provided by the deceased and the life expectancy of the deceased. Medical and funeral expenses may be reimbursed to the person bringing the wrongful death suit or to the estate. If there are multiple heirs to the settlement and those heirs are unable to determine how to divide the money, the Court will divide it as it sees fit.
If the death was the result of medical malpractice, then recovery may be limited by California medical malpractice statutory limits. If your loved one was not working at the time of his or her death, it is likely there were other contributions made to family members which are compensable. An example would be a stay-at-home mom who took care of the children, cleaned the home, managed the household finances, bought groceries and cooked meals, which are all quantifiable losses.
In short, properly assessing damages can be complex. Insurance companies will attempt to lowball the settlement offer unless you have competent legal counsel on your side.
Speak to a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney Today
As noted, although taking legal action following the death of your loved one may not seem to be a high priority during this time, it is important that as the survivor of the deceased, you consider retaining a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. The quicker you make the call, the more your financial difficulties will be minimized. Attorney Joshua Glotzer will be both aggressive when dealing with insurance companies, and compassionate to your situation.
Insurance companies rarely offer an equitable settlement to survivors of the deceased without benefit of an experienced wrongful death attorney fighting hard for the family’s rights. Your attorney will handle all the details in order to give you the time you need to recover from your loss, and move forward with your life. Let our firm be your voice and obtain justice in the form of maximum recovery in a personal injury case for the wrongful death of your loved one.