Nothing is more devastating or life-changing than the untimely death of a loved one. If the tragedy was caused by the carelessness of another person, the event can seem even more heartbreaking. In many of these cases, family members of the deceased person choose to bring a wrongful death claim against the party whose negligent or wrongful acts resulted in the death of their loved one. For over 30 years, Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer Vann H. Slatter has represented grieving families who are seeking legal guidance after a fatal accident.Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim in California
A cause of action for wrongful death is a statutory claim, enacted for the purpose of compensating the heirs of a decedent for the loss of companionship, loss of earnings, and other damages suffered as a result of his or her death. In most cases, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death, although there may be legal exceptions in specific circumstances. The claim may be asserted by the decedent’s personal representative, surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, grandchildren, or other heirs by intestate succession. A wrongful death claim may also be brought by stepchildren or parents if they were dependent on the decedent, as well as others who are eligible under the specific requirements of the statute. In order for the heirs to succeed in their wrongful death claim, they must prove the underlying tort, the resulting death, and the pecuniary losses suffered by the heirs. The underlying tort refers to the negligent or wrongful act that caused the decedent’s death. For example, if a family member died in a car accident, and the underlying cause of action against the driver is negligence, the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim must establish the elements of negligence. This means that the plaintiff must prove that the driver owed a duty of care to the decedent, the driver breached that duty, the driver’s careless actions were the actual and proximate cause of the decedent’s injury, and actual damages were incurred. The plaintiff must then present evidence of the decedent’s death as well as the losses of the plaintiff and possibly other family members. The damages available in a wrongful death claim may consist of many different forms, and they may include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include funeral and burial expenses, in addition to the lost financial support, benefits, and value of household services that would have been provided to the plaintiffs by the decedent had he or she not died. The plaintiffs may also receive noneconomic damages, such as compensation for the loss of love, companionship, affection, sexual relations, protection, and others, depending on the circumstances of the case.Wrongful Death Statutes
Wrongful death actions did not exist under traditional law. The thought process behind this was that the claim died with the deceased person. However, this does not take into account the economic and noneconomic losses that family and others may suffer due to the victim’s death. As such, laws have been enacted to correct for this oversight to help grieving families in California.Wrongful Death Settlements
It is common for a wrongful death lawsuit to end in a settlement, rather than a trial. In such cases, both parties settle on terms before the lawsuit ever makes it to trial. Trials can make the grieving process more painful than it needs to be. An experienced attorney will know how to wield the facts of the case and negotiate terms so that you get the best outcome possible so that you can focus on healing.Seek Knowledgeable Legal Guidance After a Fatal Accident
In many cases, the death of a family member is not only emotionally difficult but financially stressful as well. Obtaining the advice of a qualified lawyer is often beneficial in determining whether to pursue compensation for your loss. Los Angeles wrongful death attorney Vann H. Slatter represents families in wrongful death claims arising from car accidents and other incidents of negligence. We serve people from Long Beach, Lancaster, Canoga Park, Van Nuys, and Panorama City, among other Southern California cities. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at (310) 444-3010 or contact us online.