At one time or another in our lives, all of us will experience a tragic death of a family member or close friend. If the death is the result of a fatal accident, some will try to comfort us by saying things such as “accidents can’t be helped” or “accidents just happen.” But accidents can be helped because accidents don’t just happen. Fatal accidents happen because someone was either careless or intentionally “cut corners” for some reason or another! When an accident results in a death it is said that a wrongful death has occurred.
Under the civil laws in every state, a wrongful death is any death that is caused by the unlawful actions or by the negligence of another person. If a death is due to an unlawful act, the person responsible is tried in a criminal court and can be sentenced to a prison term if found guilty. If a death is due to the negligent actions of another person, that person may be sued in a civil court and ordered to pay damages to the next of kin and/or the family of the victim but the negligent person is not subject to a jail or prison term. It is also possible that a person whose unlawful act caused a death or catastrophic loss to face both criminal charges and being sued in a civil court.
When a wrongful death occurs, a claim is made against the person who is alleged to be responsible for the death. A claim is essentially the same as a lawsuit, or litigation, and will set forth the reason that the person is being sued and the damages that are being sought. If the person named in the lawsuit denies responsibility for the death, then the lawsuit is scheduled for trial at some future date
A wrongful death claim or lawsuit must be filed by a member of the victim’s family or by someone who is acting as a representative of the victim’s estate. As a rule a minor child of the deceased cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit. Such actions must be filed on their behalf by an adult guardian. Since it is almost impossible for a person without legal training to manage the details of a lawsuit, these details are entrusted to a wrongful death or catastrophic injury attorney.
Regardless of who files a wrongful death lawsuit lawsuit, the victim’s survivors will ask that damages be paid. The dollar amount of these damages can vary over a wide range and are usually computed by a wrongful death claim expert working with the attorney who files the lawsuit. Damages that can be sought in a wrongful death claim can be classified as economic, non-economic and punitive.
Wrongful death lawsuits, or any other litigation alleging a such loss, must be filed within a specific time period or the case will be dismissed by the courts. These time limits are known as the Statures of Limitations and are as follows:
To recap the information already presented, if you suspect negligence was the cause of a fatal accident involving a loved one in the Los Angeles area you should seek the advice of catastrophic injury attorney or Los Angeles personal injury attorney to learn if there is a potential case to be made against those responsible for your loss. While no guarantees can be made, in many cases a Los Angeles personal injury attorney or catastrophic loss lawyer working with a death claim expert will be able to obtain justice for those that are left behind to mourn their loss.
— Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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