The death of a close loved one is always a traumatic event, but the situation becomes even more complex when it occurs because of someone else’s behavior. Wrongful acts leading to death can devastate families, eliminate livelihoods and income sources, and make an already chaotic time even more challenging to handle. If your loved one passed because of someone else’s wrongful behavior, it is crucial to understand that you may have legal options for seeking damages and compensation due to the event. Let’s review the important things to understand about this situation.
What Counts as Wrongful Death?
Most “wrongful death” claims occur when someone dies because of an accident or injury caused by a third party whose negligence led to the situation. If the decedent would have had the standing to bring a personal injury lawsuit had they survived the ordeal, then the decedent’s estate has the right to bring a wrongful death suit against the allegedly responsible party.
Do You Have the Standing to Sue the Responsible Party?
Suppose your loved one left behind a will and named an executor of their estate. In that case, that person will typically have the ultimate authority and responsibility to file a wrongful death suit. However, you also usually have standing if the deceased was your spouse or child. You may have to wait for a probate court to designate someone to oversee the estate, as it is typically on behalf of the estate that such lawsuits proceed. California also provides legal standing for domestic partners, dependent parents, and “putative” spouses, i.e., unmarried partners who were financially reliant on the deceased’s income for a livelihood. Speak to a wrongful death attorney if you are unsure if you have the appropriate standing.
Related resources: 7 Qualities to Look For When Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney
What You Could Possibly Recover
Why even file a wrongful death suit? The purpose is not so much to hold the other party accountable, but rather to compel the payment of damages to compensate your family for its terrible loss. Some of the damages you can seek may include:
- Funeral costs
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of current or future income
Although it is difficult to put a value on these losses, it is possible. Lawyers use special formulas and interviews with their clients to conclude what to seek from the responsible party in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Process to Follow
Following an accident that you believe qualifies as a wrongful death, always take the time to cope with the immediate aftermath and care for yourself first. Afterward, you should begin researching legal options, speaking to attorneys about the facts of your case. With the appropriate information and a strategy in mind, your team can proceed to file suit and fight on your behalf to seek justice for your loved one and a financial way forward for your family.
Finding Assistance During This Difficult Time
No amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, but damages can help to create a pathway towards recovery and healing over time. Replacing lost income or receiving damages because of a wrongful death suit can defray medical and funeral expenses and potentially provide for a family stricken by loss. At HHJ Trial Attorneys, we have successfully handled wrongful death suits, and we have a deep understanding of the difficulties our clients face during this time. To seek more information about wrongful death suits, damages, and limitations, please contact us to arrange for a free consultation in a safe and friendly environment.
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