Unfortunately, there are a number of individuals who pass away due to the negligence, or "mistake" of others. While this may be incredibly unfair, especially to the person's family and loved ones, there is still an option of seeking justice for such a tragic loss. When an "accident" results in death, the situation is then deemed as a wrongful death.
Many states' civil laws define a wrongful death as 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's also possible that a person who's unlawful act caused a death, or a 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. 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's 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, the victims' survivors will ask that damages be compensated for. The dollar amount of these damages can vary over a wide range. Damages that can be sought in a wrongful death claim can be classified as economic, non-economic, and punitive.
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 a trusted personal injury attorney. By doing so, you'll learn about your legal rights, options, and 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 representative will be able to obtain justice for those that are left behind to mourn their loss.
-- Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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