Can I Recover Damages for Wrongful Death After a Suicide?
You can generally recover damages from a negligent party if that party’s acts or inaction were the direct and proximate reason for your losses and injuries. Under this standard, if the facts and circumstances of suicide reveal that another person’s acts or inaction were the direct and proximate cause of your loved one’s decision to end his or her life, you will have an opportunity to recover damages from that person for negligence and wrongful death.
The wrongful death lawyers at Ellis Injury Law in Los Angeles have more than 25 years of experience in representing aggrieved parties to recover the full measure of damages that they are entitled to receive on account of the wrongful death of a beloved family member. We are particularly sensitive to a family’s emotional upheaval that often accompanies a suicide, and we work tirelessly to understand the stresses and external motivations that might have caused someone to make a fateful decision.
Under what circumstances might a third party be liable for wrongful death in a suicide case?
Each wrongful death lawsuit will be a specific and unique reflection of the facts surrounding the fatality, and there is no general rule regarding the circumstances of a suicide that will give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit. Nonetheless, an experienced wrongful death attorney will likely consider a wrongful death claim under certain fact patterns, including, for example:
- the deceased individual was taking dangerous or defective prescription drugs that caused suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- a violent crime, a bad accident, or other traumatic event gave rise to post-traumatic stress that preceded a person’s suicide
- a younger child or teenager was unable to cope with abuse or bullying
- a physician failed to diagnose or adequately treat an individual that suffered from severe depression and suicidal thoughts
- prison officials, mental care facilities, or other custodial authorities took inadequate steps to monitor or protect inmates or patients from harming themselves.
Who can recover wrongful death damages on account of someone else’s suicide?
Unlike some other states, California law allows an aggrieved family member or the suicide victim’s estate to recover wrongful death damages. The family might claim, for example, that the suicide victim was under the special care of a therapist or other medical professional who negligently monitored the deceased party’s mental state. Under other circumstances, the family might claim that the defendant mocked, harassed, and ridiculed the suicide victim and caused the victim to suffer severe emotional distress before the suicide.
What will an attorney consider before filing a wrongful death claim on account of someone’s suicide?
The attorney will delve into the details of the deceased party’s suicide and will consider whether any professionals failed to fulfill their duty to take action, whether an institution or caretaker can be held liable for the suicide, whether individuals goaded a person to self-harm, or whether a pharmaceutical company was responsible for creating an undue risk of suicidal behavior. A knowledgeable Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer will focus on:
- whether a defendant’s conduct or failure to take necessary action was a substantial factor that led to the victim’s suicide
- whether suicide was a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the defendant’s acts or failure to act
- whether the defendant knew or should have known of the victim’s propensity toward self-harm
- whether the suicide was close or remote in time to the defendant’s actions or inaction.
Call Ellis Injury Law for a complimentary consultation on your opportunity to recover wrongful death damages after your loved one’s suicide
Recovering wrongful death damages after a suicide is one of the more challenging assignments that a personal injury lawyer might accept. Just because they are challenging, however, does not mean that a suicide victim’s family has no chance to recover the compensation they deserve when someone else’s negligence was the catalyst for that suicide.
The personal injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law have recovered more than $350 million in damages for their clients, including clients whose family members have suffered a wrongful death following another party’s negligence. Southern California residents that are dealing with the pain and dislocation of a loved one’s suicide can call our offices for a no-fee consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who will evaluate their case with the full amount of sensitivity and attention that it deserves. We will provide a fair and honest assessment of your opportunity to file a lawsuit for wrongful death damages after your loved one has taken his or her own life.