Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyers
In the back of our minds, we all dread receiving that one dreaded phone call informing us that a loved one has been seriously injured or even killed in an accident. For people who receive that phone call, the rest of the world comes to a screeching halt, and nothing will ever be the same. When a relative’s death was caused by another person’s wrongful act or failure to act, surviving family members may be entitled to monetary compensation for their tragic loss. At Ellis Injury Law, we know that no cash award, regardless of its size, can ever fully offset the devastating emotional damage resulting from a family member’s passing. But a monetary recovery can at the very least assist a family with the financial losses caused by a breadwinner’s death, or establish a fund in memory of a young child who died before her time.
We do the heavy lifting for our clients
For over 20 years, wrongful death attorneys at Ellis Injury Law have been helping families in Los Angeles and neighboring Southern California communities put their lives back together after the death of cherished family members. We can determine whether your family member died due to someone else’s wrongful action or failure to act. We fully investigate the surrounding circumstances of the death, calculate the financial and other losses, and file all of the paperwork required of these highly sensitive and emotionally charged lawsuits.
Though many of these cases settle out of court, our attorneys are prepared to take your case to trial and show the jury exactly what wrongful actions or inactions caused the death of your spouse, child, or domestic partner as well as the financial and emotional losses that followed.
Understanding wrongful death claims
In Los Angeles and LA County, family members can file a lawsuit if a close relative died because of the action or neglect of another person. Some cases involve criminal acts. But it is critical to distinguish between a criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit. In a criminal case, a government prosecutor seeks to punish the wrongdoer for his or her offenses. If found guilty, a criminal defendant may go to prison, pay steep fines to the government, or both. A criminal prosecution focuses on the harm to society of the offender’s misconduct.
In a wrongful death case, on the other hand, the emphasis is on the damage to the victim’s family due to the death of a loved one since these are civil lawsuits. Those who wrongfully caused the death must compensate surviving family members for their loss by paying money damages to the family.
Ellis Law attorneys represents families in wrongful death cases caused by:
- Car, truck, bus, motorcycle, taxi, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents
- Fires, including inhalation of smoke and toxic gases
- Slip, trip, and fall
- Construction accidents
- Poisoning with drugs or toxic chemicals
- Animal attacks
- Defective products
- Airplane and helicopter crashes
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Firearms, including accidents and intentional acts
What makes someone liable for a wrongful death?
People can be found responsible for causing a wrongful death even if they did not intend to cause harm. If they acted carelessly, negligently, or recklessly and the result was death, those persons can be held liable to surviving family members. For example, a doctor that negligently leaves a dangerous object inside a patient during surgery and thereby causes the patient to die may be liable for wrongful death. Likewise, if the driver of a car is heavily intoxicated and speeding at the time he or she crashes into and kills your loved one, the drunk driver may be liable for wrongful death.
Even failing to act may be enough to establish liability depending on the legal duty imposed on certain classes of individuals or entities, such as a homeowner who fails to fence in a backyard pool. Another example of failing to act would be a grocery store where a large spill goes undetected and uncleaned for several hours in a high-traffic area, and a customer tragically slips on the liquid, hits their head forcefully on the floor, and dies. As long as the victim was owed a duty of care by the defendant, then the defendant may be held liable for the victim’s death if he or she breached this duty of care and that breach is what caused the victim’s fatal injury.
Ellis Injury Law: a Results-Oriented Firm
Our attorneys at Ellis Injury Law have been representing Southern Californians in wrongful death cases for more than 25 years. In one case, a Watts resident by the name of Arturo Cabrales was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s department deputy shortly after the deputy entered Cabrales’ home. We filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Cabrales’ mother-and-son and reached a $1.25 Million settlement on their behalf for Arturo’s tragic death.
In another case, a man named Mr. C was seen by a physician assistant at a Southern California medical center. After running several tests, the physician assistant diagnosed Mr. C with Type II Diabetes and the flu. The physician assistant prescribed Tamiflu and Pioglitazone for Mr. C. The following day, Mr. C’s wife, Mrs. C, received a phone call from the medical center instructing her to prevent Mr. C from taking his prescribed medication due to his elevated glucose levels and get him to the emergency department immediately. Apparently, Pioglitazone can exacerbate Type II Diabetes, and never should have been prescribed to Mr. C in the first place. Despite the fact that Mrs. C followed these instructions, Mr. C collapsed while they were on their way out the door to head to the hospital. Paramedics were contacted and transported Mr. C to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Mr. C died due to the physician assistant’s negligence in prescribing that medication, and our attorneys at Ellis Injury Law were able to recover $985,000 on behalf of Mr. C’s family.
Delays can be costly for you and your family
While our attorneys at Ellis Injury Law fully understand that your life has been turned upside down if you have tragically lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, we urge you not to delay. Here in California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date the victim dies. In other words, you have two years from the date your loved one passes in which to file a lawsuit, or you lose all legal rights to the claim. An experienced wrongful death attorney will ensure that your claim is filed in a timely manner and you do not miss any important deadlines, thus preserving your legal rights.
Does it really matter which lawyer you hire?
While two years may seem like a long time, we strongly advise that you act much sooner than that and hire an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after this accident. Once hired, your attorney can immediately begin investigating your case for you and making sure that all relevant evidence is obtained or preserved. With so much on the line financially for wrongful death lawsuit defendants, we have found that they will often do everything possible to fix, change, remove, or conceal any evidence that may benefit your case. For example, if your loved one was walking down the steps in an apartment building and the step unexpectedly gave out and caused a fatal fall, the owner of the apartment building may make an effort to fix the step as soon as possible before anyone can show proof of the dangerous condition. Similarly, if your loved one was killed by a truck driver that was speeding and driving under the influence, the trucking company may attempt to repair the truck and get it back on the road as quickly as possible in order to destroy evidence that may bolster your claim.
Show the defendant that you must be taken seriously
Lastly, by hiring the right attorney early in the process, you send the message to the defendant that you will be fighting for justice and must be taken seriously. That may help minimize the degree to which the defendant tries to make you just “go away” by extending a low-ball settlement offer, as the defendant will know that your attorney will quickly reject it. You also send the message that you are in this case for the long haul if need be, assuming you have hired an attorney that has experience winning wrongful death lawsuits at trial. For a variety of reasons, many wrongful death lawsuit defendants are reluctant to let the case go all the way to trial. Some may not want to pay the legal bills that will come with a trial, some may not want to expose themselves to the potentially negative publicity a trial could bring, and some may have valuable trade secrets that may get exposed if the case goes all the way to trial. For all of these reasons and more, you may benefit by receiving a fair settlement offer earlier in the process if you hire the right attorney. This can help you and your family begin the healing process – both emotionally and financially – sooner.
What kinds of losses can a family recover?
With these types of cases, the legal team at Ellis Law takes special investigative measures to ensure that survivors get the maximum amount of compensation they deserve.
In Los Angeles and LA County, family members can recover losses for:
- Financial support the decedent would have provided over a lifetime, including wages and other income such as gifts
- Funeral and burial costs
- The economic benefit that would have been provided, for example by a stay-at-home mother or father raising children, or an adult caring for an aging parent
- Companionship, comfort, emotional support, marital relationship including sexual relations, parental relationship including physical care for small children, and the like that the decedent would have given family members during his or her lifetime.
In some circumstances, families can recover damages for their loved one’s medical bills, lost earnings, property damage, or other losses incurred before death. If the wrongdoer flagrantly disregarded known dangers or acted with extraordinary recklessness, sometimes a family can obtain punitive damages – a monetary award designed to punish the responsible party and deter others from acting similarly in the future.
Our highly skilled team can help you explore the specifics of your situation and determine whether recovering damages of these types might be possible. The personal injury lawyers at Ellis Law follow all California statutory updates and precedential case holdings to provide our clients with the highest caliber and personal level of legal advice.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
California law permits close family members to file a lawsuit. Specifically, the law allows cases to be filed by a surviving spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild (if his/her parent is dead), or any minor who lived in the household for six months and was dependent on the decedent for at least half of his or her support.
We work with you to be sure that all family members get the representation they deserve. We understand that family relationships can be complicated, and will make sure to protect everyone’s interests even under the most difficult circumstances.
Call Ellis Injury Law 24/7 to book a case review
We encourage you to contact us if a member of your family has died and you believe that another person’s action or neglect was responsible. We represent residents from all over Los Angeles, LA County, and neighboring Southern California communities. We offer free evaluations of potential cases over the phone. Call us 24 hours a day to schedule your zero-cost consultation. Our clients do not pay us anything unless they prevail.