Though quite common, wrongful death lawsuits are frequently misunderstood by a majority of Americans, many of whom may actually be eligible candidates for filing such civil suits. Wrongful death lawsuits apply when an individual dies or is killed as the result of the negligence or misconduct of another (which includes murder). In such instances, although the victim is deceased, the victim’s family may sue for “wrongful death.”
Additional examples of wrongful death incidents can include: drowning, assault and battery, elder abuse or neglect, child abuse or neglect, pedestrian “knock-down” accidents, airplane accidents, and manslaughter.
Wrongful death settlements are primarily paid by insurance providers through liability coverage held by the responsible party. However, depending on the defendant’s policy, a limit amount, above which the insurance company will not pay, can apply. In such instances, the defendant is therefore deemed individually liable for any overages. If the responsible party is without sufficient insurance coverage, he or she will be personally responsible for any judgment or settlement amount, which can include your legal fees accrued in the process.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), most wrongful death settlement payments are non-taxable, provided the payments are compensatory. Compensation is intended to provide for pain and suffering experienced by the surviving members in the case.
If you plan to receive a wrongful death settlement, it is advisable to first consult with one of our attorneys to review the possible tax implications of any settlement proposal before you decide to accept it.
Wrongful death damages are a means for compensating heirs for the value of financial support they could reasonably have expected to receive from the decedent, should he or she have lived. Financial injury is the primary measure of damages in a wrongful death action. Typically, the main consideration in awarding damages is the decedent’s circumstances at the time of death. Said circumstances can include age, his or her earning potential, life expectancy, health prior to the incident, and the circumstances of the family members or representatives affected (such as loss of income or loss of parental guidance).
Determining the appropriate financial figure for you to claim in your case involves an extensive inquiry on the part of Dordulian Law Group’s expert analysts, factoring in all of the above criteria to successfully secure the largest possible settlement given your specific set of circumstances. As part of your case, we research every possible variable related to the financial damages impacting you, providing you with the necessary confidence and trust that your legal representatives always prioritize your best interests.
Damages for wrongful death cases fall under three categories: punitive, economic, and non-economic. An heir suing for wrongful death is generally prohibited from recovering punitive damages under California law, as punitive damages are only awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrongdoing in an effort to punish the wrongdoer. However, in some cases California does allow for punitive damages to be claimed under what is known as “survival action.”
California’s “survival” cause of action falls under Code of Civil Procedure 377.30. A survival cause of action is only applicable in cases where the decedent did not immediately die from his or her injuries. In such instances, even if the decedent lived only a short period of time between the accident and eventual death, a survival cause of action may be appropriate.
Damages recoverable under the statute include “the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived.” However, damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement are not included.
Essentially, the survival statute allows an heir to fill the role of the deceased, and recover any damages he or she would have been entitled to had they lived. This can include medical expenses and lost wages, in addition to penalties, punitive, or exemplary damages.
That said, most wrongful death lawsuits do not fall under the survival cause of action, and therefore do not include punitive damages. Rather, heirs are eligible to sue for specific economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages for wrongful death in California can include without limitation:
Non-economic damages, which fall under California’s loss of consortium law, apply to instances such as loss of companionship and intimacy following a wrongful death to one’s spouse or domestic partner. Examples of such loss can include without limitation:
The statute of limitations under California wrongful death law is two years, which accrues (begins) on the date of death, meaning you have two years from the day of the decedent’s passing to file your lawsuit.
California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 allows family members or personal representatives to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This specifically includes:
Many variables are at play when determining whether or not you should pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. With that in mind, it’s imperative that you find the best-qualified wrongful death attorney near you who can help you navigate the complex statutes and laws. In many cases, individuals are under the false impression that their particular situation would not be eligible for filing suit and securing damages. Unfortunately, many individuals whose loved ones have been harmed in instances of medical malpractice, etc. fail to move forward with filing a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations.
At Dordulian Law Group, we want all applicable heirs to the victims of wrongful death acts to obtain justice and secure the settlements they deserve. The affects of such tragedies are profoundly difficult on the surviving family members and representatives, and although a settlement can never eclipse the struggles you’ve experienced, if your loved one is the victim of a wrongful death act, you should deserve to be compensated accordingly.
Dordulian Law Group can help you determine the best course of action for your situation, providing you with an honest and straightforward assessment of your potential lawsuit, and an estimate of the settlement you may be entitled to receiving. Don’t let the pain and suffering you experience prevent you from contacting us for a free consultation. We are here for you and will utilize our vast array of resources on your behalf, fighting for what you are entitled to following a devastating wrongful death experience.
Led by Samuel Dordulian, Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, Dordulian Law Group has:
Dordulian Law Group is a top-rated California wrongful death law firm comprised of a team of experienced personal injury attorneys with nearly two decades of experience litigating wrongful death lawsuits. When seeking the best wrongful death attorney in Glendale, CA that will secure you the largest possible settlement, you should consider Dordulian Law Group’s past history of substantial verdicts reached for our clients.
We have secured millions for our clients through personal injury lawsuits, and our range of experience spans the gamut in terms of specific types of suits — from medical malpractice, to slip and fall, to traffic fatalities, and more. Whatever your personal circumstances may be, we have the knowledge, experience, drive, and dedication necessary to best represent you in your wrongful death lawsuit.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and workers compensation concerns.