Lakewood Wrongful Death Lawyers
Grieving relatives can’t help but feel “wronged” by any untimely death, but by law, a “wrongful death” involves an accident caused by another person or entity. It could be a car accident, a workplace incident, or improper care in the hospital. Defective consumer products, defective drugs, and toxic chemical exposure are all grounds to sue. In some cases, where the murder victims do little to nothing to bring death upon themselves, homicides can be deemed “wrongful.” Even if you’re not 100% sure what happened, it’s worth calling personal injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law to look into matters further.
Who files wrongful death lawsuits?
Wrongful death lawsuits are designed to compensate those dependent on the decedent for their daily livelihood. A “legally recognized spouse” is the most common person to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. A spouse can be a heterosexual mate sanctified by the church or married by the state authority in a court. Since 2008, same-sex unions have been recognized by the state. Registered domestic partnerships in California are also valid.
One exception occurs if you were “married” in a state that did not recognize same-sex legal unions and have since moved to California, but did not go through the pomp and circumstance here, you may lack legal standing to sue.
You may not be able to file an action if:
- Your marriage was declared void.
- You are remarried (unless you mistakenly believed your spouse was dead).
- You were in a bigamous relationship.
- You are married to a relative.
- You are married under the age of consent (18).
If you lived with and shared an intimate relationship with the decedent, but were not married, you will not have legal standing to sue.
In addition to spouses, dependent children are also frequently included in a wrongful death action, including:
- Natural, biological children.
- Stepchildren living within the household.
- Adopted children living within the household.
- Foster children living within the household.
- Unborn children of the decedent.
Biological children adopted out to different families will not be able to sue. Parents who had economic dependence on the decent may be eligible to claim, however. As you can see, there are many subtle nuances to what the state considers a “next of kin” successor, so it is best to consult with a wrongful death lawyer if you have any questions or doubts.
What are economic damages?
Compensation is the end goal of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The types of money paid are called “damages.” Dependents may receive money to cover:
- Loss of support, guidance, companionship, and inheritance
- Funeral and burial costs
- Household value of goods and services lost
If your loved one suffered for some time before passing away, a survival cause of action may also be filed on behalf of the decedent. Damages include coverage of medical bills, compensation for lost wages if the decedent was unable to work for some time, pain and suffering, and punitive damages to punish wrongdoing in cases of gross negligence or misconduct.
When a person dies instantly, a survival cause of action may cover little more than ambulance costs. However, when a person lingers in the hospital for some time, the damages could reach tens of thousands or even millions of dollars payable to the estate. In these cases, it helps to hire a personal injury attorney with sufficient resources to hire a forensic economist who can accurately evaluate loss of future earnings, pension values, net loss to spouses, incremental social security benefit losses, and the value of past and future household services like cooking, cleaning, childcare, shopping, transportation, and home repairs. California places a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages related to medical malpractice, but there is no cap on economic losses or for other types of wrongful death.
Reach out to us today
Ellis Injury Law provides free consultations for family members who have lost a loved one. Contact a Lakewood wrongful death attorney to explore your full set of legal options.