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Losing a loved one is a painful, traumatic experience, especially when their loss was caused by someone’s negligence. Families may be left without the financial resources or companionship they enjoyed while the victim was alive.
Wrongful death statutes were put in place to protect the surviving members of the victim’s family. Although it may be difficult to think about filing a lawsuit as you grieve, it is important that you do so to recover the compensation you deserve.
Each state has its own rules surrounding who can file a wrongful death claim. In California, the deceased person’s spouse, domestic partner or children can legally file a wrongful death claim. But, if there is no surviving person who is in the deceased’s immediate family, other members of the family could file the claim. This may include the parents, siblings or even distant relatives of the deceased, depending on who would be next in line for the property of the deceased.
If the stepchildren or parents of the victim were financially dependent on the victim, they may also file a wrongful death claim to recover damages.
The damages that are recovered from a wrongful death claim usually go to the spouse, children, or parents of the victim first.
In wrongful death cases, you may be entitled to recover economic, non-economic and punitive damages, however the exact amount and type you receive will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Economic damages are awarded to cover financial losses the survivors have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. For example, if the survivors were financially dependent on the deceased, they may be awarded lost wages. Expenses to cover the cost of the funeral may also be awarded as economic damages. If the victim was in the hospital prior to his or her passing, medical expenses may also be awarded as economic damages.
Economic damages are fairly easy to prove because you can provide documentation to back up your claim. Noneconomic damages are not as easy to calculate since they compensate survivors for unquantifiable things such as pain and suffering caused by the victim’s death.
Punitive damages may also be awarded, but these are not as common as economic and noneconomic damages. These are only given when the court finds the defendant acted with extreme negligence or malice, and are used to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
The family members who file the wrongful death claim may also ask the defendant to reimburse them for attorneys’ fees and pay any interest that may have accumulated on the damages.
Many attorneys consider wrongful death cases to be challenging and complex. It takes a skilled attorney with experience representing wrongful death victims to help you recover the compensation you deserve. The compassionate team of personal injury attorneys at Shegerian Conniff will provide you with the legal knowledge and expertise you need to finally seek justice for your loved one. Contact Shegerian Conniff today to schedule your free consultation.