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Guide to Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2014 | Articles

The term “wrongful death” refers to the event, where the unlawful deed of a person or entity has caused death to another person. In such a scenario, the representatives of the victim can claim and recover a monetary or punitive damage from the accused. The experienced attorneys at Makarem & Associates can be consulted to find out the specifics of such a lawsuit.

Who is authorized to bring the lawsuit for illegal actions?

The dependents or beneficiaries of the victim are authorized to file a lawsuit to claim damages. In most cases, the victim’s family members i.e. spouse or children, are authorized or allowed to bring the lawsuit.

The law allows filing the wrongful death lawsuit within a specified timeframe, this is called a statute. This period may vary, depending on both the petitioner and the respondent. A qualified attorney can explain how a statute would apply to your case.

Proving Negligence of the DEFENDANT

The survivors are entitled to damages and compensation, provided the defendant’s negligence is proved in the court of law. ‘Negligence’ in this situation is referred to as the “carelessness that has resulted in the wrongful death of a victim.” For instance, a contractor or a builder is blamable for a faulty construction leading to someone’s death. Similarly, if carelessness of a reckless truck driver leads to a fatal road accident, he’s the one who’s responsible.

Other cases where the defendants can be sued for wrongful death may include the manufacturer selling a product that has proved fatal; a doctor or hospital whose medical malpractice resulted in the decedent’s death; an airline that logged a plane crash with passengers losing their lives: the owner of the premises who served a lethal amount of alcohol to the decedent, and so on.

To strengthen the petition against the person or entity liable for wrongful death, the attorney must be provided with detailed information related to the incident. Although the overall process of proving negligence is not easy, it can be a smooth ride for an experienced and skilled attorney.

Wrongful death lawsuit: What is the compensation that can be claimed?

Even though no financial amount can ever recompense the loss of life, the financial reward for winning the lawsuit can help the grieving family make up for the lost income or medical expenses incurred by the incident.

Only an experienced attorney can determine if punitive damages are available by assessing the merits of the case. The potential damages for the victim and/or their family includes the loss of companionship, sorrow and grief, the amount of money earned by the deceased, savings of the deceased, medical and funeral expenses incurred by the survivors, and the degree to which the survivors were financially dependent on the deceased.

The Life Expectancy Table

Moreover, lost wages are calculated by undertaking the main factors: the earnings of the victim at the time of his/her death are multiplied with the estimated years of their remaining life (age), which is another factor. This is calculated using a life expectancy table. Financial experts here are sometimes consulted to determine the future cash value of this person profession and life. Normally, the attorney and family can find out this figure by themselves but sometimes someone more knowledgeable experts will have to be brought in.

Attorneys at Makarem & Associates are highly qualified and experienced in wrongful death cases. If you are a survivor in a wrongful death incident, contact us at [email protected] or give us a call at 310.312.0299 to seek further guidance on your case. Ronald Makarem is a certified legal malpractice specialist by the State Bar of California.