Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

Learn More By Speaking to Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Los Angeles

The loss of a loved one can devastate your life. If you were not prepared for the departure and have a good reason to believe that the person had many years ahead of them, their sudden death can leave you stricken with grief, pain, and despair. You may also suffer from the material deprivation that comes because of their loss. If the person who died was the primary breadwinner in your household, your family will come under severe financial strain.

The sudden death of your loved one could have been caused by an accident which was in no one’s power to prevent. However, if you have good reason to believe that a specific person or group of persons is to blame for the death of your loved one, then you should hold them accountable. The best way to do so is to file a wrongful death suit.

Accidental death lawyers in Los Angeles help ordinary people get the compensation they deserve when their loved one is taken away because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Hiring such a lawyer that specializes in this area of tort law can set you on the path to justice.

Criminal Versus Civil Remedies to a Wrongful Death 

Some accidental deaths rise to the level of a criminal violation. In these instances, the public prosecutor will bring charges against the responsible party and seek jail time. If the death of your loved one is not prosecutable in a criminal court, you can still seek civil remedies.

Taking legal action can lead to a civil trial in which you may win a great deal of money. Or it can lead to the respondent settling the case and paying you a certain amount of money negotiated by attorneys that are well-versed in handling sudden death cases. Settlements can include the following damages:

  • Loss of current and future income
  • Medical and burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship

Each state has its own laws on wrongful death suits, and some of them have caps on the amount of money that a victim can claim. The legal counsel that you hire will know whether this applies to your state.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

The rules concerning wrongful death suits and settlements also explain the persons authorized to sue. In most states, the surviving spouse, children, parents, and siblings can file a claim. You must be within a certain degree of relation to the deceased person to have standing in court.

California among other states prioritizes the right to certain categories of family members. The surviving spouse and children of the departed are given priority. Long-term partners can also file a wrongful death suit. If you were not married to the person who was suddenly taken from you, but you had a house and children together and were in a relationship for many years, then it may be possible for you to sue and receive a settlement. The rules concerning the right to sue apply to same-sex marriages.

States also have time limitations for filing. This should be one of the first things you speak to your lawyer about, as you may have only one year following the death of your loved one to file a wrongful death suit.

Personal Representatives

In some states, only a personal representative can file a wrongful death suit. A personal representative is a person or entity responsible for managing the estate of the deceased. This will most likely be the executor of the state, who in most instances is a lawyer.

Your loved one’s personal representative can take legal action on your behalf. They can do so for the benefit of you and the other surviving family members of the deceased. If you are compelled to go down this route to get justice, you still have the right to retain a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to work with and alongside the personal representative. He or she will ensure that your interests are protected as the lawsuit proceeds.

If the suit is successful and damages are awarded, they will be distributed between the estate and the surviving family members. In such cases, the estate is entitled to recover any damages your departed loved one would have been entitled to, including money for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. While surviving family members can recover damages for loss of companionship and financial support.

If you are set to inherit the estate of your dead loved one, then the money recovered by it in the wrongful death suit will go to you. You will also receive money as a surviving family member. These matters can be complex, which is why you should retain personal counsel. It is important to protect your rights and interests.

Fighting for Your Rights

Dealing with the loss of a loved one will make it hard for you to look after yourself and your interests. Although you will need a proper period to grieve, you must also move quickly to get justice for your loved one.

This cannot be put off indefinitely, and if you hope to get a fair resolution you will need to contact a legal professional sooner rather than later. Preferably a lawyer from Gutierrez Law who will hold the negligent party responsible for taking away what was most precious to you. You need someone who will fight for your rights and ensure that you are able to provide for yourself and your children.