When a loved one dies in an accident through the fault of another, the law provides a way for that person’s family to seek damages. While there are certain rules restricting a wrongful death claim, it can help grieving loved ones recover from the financial hardships caused by the death.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To begin, there are only certain people who can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. While the laws in each state vary slightly, most stipulate that this type of legal action can only be initiated by a personal representative of the decedent. This may be an individual named in the decedent’s will as an executor or may be someone appointed by the courts.
While the personal representative speaks for the family in court, other individuals will likely share the damages awarded in the trial. Those individuals who can show a financial loss caused by the death are eligible to receive a share of the settlement. This may be a spouse and/or minor children for whom the decedent was financially responsible. An elder parent whom the deceased individual cared for, or other family members affected by the loss in some financial means. Some states allow the unwed life partner of the decedent to benefit as well.
In a legal proceeding of this type, the wrongful death attorney Beverly Hills CA acting for the family must be able to establish certain elements. For a wrongful death proceeding to move forward, the plaintiff must be able to show that there was, in fact, a death. Additionally, they must show that the defendant was responsible for causing the death, either through negligence or through a willful disregard for that person’s life. The remaining factors in a wrongful death case revolve around showing that family members have been financially impacted by the loss and that a personal representative has been appointed.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Claim of Wrongful Death?
In civil court, damages is the term used to describe the money awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the loss or harm caused by the defendant. In a wrongful death case, damages can be awarded for a number of reasons.
Damages related to the victim’s experience are commonly awarded. For instance, damages may be awarded to compensate the family for the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent, just prior to his death. If the decedent lived long enough to receive medical treatment, compensation for those costs may also be awarded. The cost of the deceased individual’s funeral and burial expenses will likely be awarded to the family as well.
Additionally, the family will be compensated for the loss of income that results from the death. In some cases, an inheritance may be affected by the death and, in those instances, damages will be awarded to offset the loss of that inheritance. Other damages include the loss of value in the services the deceased would have provided. Similarly, a monetary value is placed on the care and guidance, love and companionship, and the nurturing that the decedent would otherwise have offered to his loved ones.
Losing a family member is an emotionally devastating experience and monetary compensation can’t change that. However, when that loss is caused by another and results in an extreme financial burden, the surviving family has a right to seek damages. BY seeking out an experienced wrongful death attorney, they can receive the compensation they deserve, so they can concentrate on grieving and healing from their loss.