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Los Angeles Law Blog

By stephen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Wrongful Death on Wednesday, February 3, 2021.
How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?

In the event of the wrongful death of a loved one, the people who are entitled to damages are often deterred by the time and perceived cost of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, which is especially difficult to consider during a time of grieving.

 

Given the complexity of wrongful death lawsuits, it’s best to explain how these civil claims work as simply as possible. Read below on how wrongful death lawsuits work:

 

Examples of Wrongful Death

 

Wrongful death claims are traditionally brought to court from vehicular accidents, though not exclusively. Examples of wrongful death accidents including commercial vehicle accidents, motor vehicle collisions with pedestrians, plane crashes, accidents stemming from the use of defective products, and more.

 

Qualifying to Bring the Claim

 

In order for someone to bring a wrongful death claim to court, they must qualify to do so. Not just anyone can sue for wrongful death claims – they must be a representative of the deceased party, and must be legally recognized as the executor of the decedent’s estate. After they are recognized as a “Real Party of Interest”, a probate estate must be opened for them to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. The person(s) that usually qualify for and are Real Parties of Interest are immediate family members, such as spouses or children, though it’s possible for others to be Real Parties of Interest.

 

Proof of Wrongful Death

 

The plaintiff(s) in a wrongful death lawsuit have the same burden of proof that the victim (or deceased individual) would have if they hadn’t died. Beyond this, the plaintiff(s) must prove, in order to successfully sue for and receive damages, that the defendant(s) owed a “duty” to the deceased. 

 

For example, if a commercial truck driver hit and killed a civilian motorist due to their own negligence, then it can be said that the commercial truck driver owed the civilian driver a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws, that they breached this duty, and that the breach of this duty was the direct and proximate cause of death.

 

Damages

 

Once liability for the wrongful death is proven, the Real Parties of Interest should have determined the kind of damages they seek to recover, as well as the amount of those damages. Damages are split between two kinds: economic and noneconomic.

 

Economic damages include loss of financial support and anticipated financial support, loss of income and anticipated income of the deceased, all medical bills stemming from the accident that resulted in the wrongful death, funeral costs, and even the loss of household services. Noneconomic damages include “pain and suffering”, and are a little different to quantify and receive adequate compensation for.

 

That is why it’s best to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney. Kristensen LLP has years of experience and has successfully represented and received compensation for clients in wrongful death lawsuits. Call us today!