Wrongful Death Attorneys in Redding CA
When the negligence or misconduct of another person results in death, it is considered a "wrongful death." Most commonly the surviving spouses, children and sometimes parents can take action against the entity responsible for the wrongful death. Each state has established procedures for bringing a wrongful death case to action. Actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent's death are also brought by the personal representative. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent's will.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In order to bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the following elements must be present:
The death of a human being;
Intent to cause harm or negligence on another’s part
The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and;
The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent's estate.
A wrongful death claim may arise out of a number of circumstances, such as in the following situations:
Death during a supervised activity
Medical malpractice that results in death
Air or auto accident
Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Financial harm is the main measure of damages in a wrongful death action. Courts have interpreted financial harm or pecuniary injuries, as including medical and funeral expenses, loss of support, or loss of inheritance. Most laws provide that the damages awarded for a wrongful death shall be fair and just compensation for the pecuniary injuries that resulted from the decedent's death. The person, who paid for the decedent's funeral or medical care, may also recover those expenses. Finally, a damage award will include interest from the date of the decedent's death.
Determining Pecuniary Loss
The determination of pecuniary loss is determined by considering the decedents age, character and condition of the decedent, his/her earning capacity, life expectancy, health and intelligence, as well as the circumstances of the distributees. Determining a value can become somewhat complicated. The main parts of recovery the jury would consider are not only loss of income, but also non-monetary values such as parental guidance.
In a wrongful death action, the jury determines the size of the damages award after hearing the evidence. The court then can then adjust the amount or order a new trial based on a number of factors. The court can decrease the award if the decedent had poor earnings and a history of unemployment with no evidence of significant increase or if the court can raise the award if there was evidence that the decedent had potential for greater earnings because of education or employment history. It is up to the plaintiff to present evidence during the trial of the decedents earnings and/or potential earnings during their life in the event they were still living.
Using Expert Testimony to Determine Pecuniary Loss
To establish the value the award, expert testimony may be used. This could be an economist that would establish a value of the decedent. This is to help jurors who may not have comprehensive knowledge of the financial value one was providing or would have provided if they had lived.
Wrongful Death – Overview
There are many circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death. Automobile accidents, on the job accidents from construction jobs, manufacturing jobs, medical malpractice, other employment related injuries, and criminal actions are some of the common causes of wrongful death.
If you are a family member of someone that has died due to malpractice, negligence, or the wrongful actions of another, you can may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent parties. You have the right to hold the responsible party accountable for the death of our family member. Though it won’t replace your loved one it will help protect others in the future from the same thing happening to someone else. Damage awards in wrongful death cases can include lost earnings, funeral costs, and prior medical costs, which are essential if a family has lost their main income earner due to negligent circumstances, loss of companionship, protection of the victims benefits: (medical insurance, pension, 401K, etc.) and survivor’s pain and suffering.
Contact a an attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases. The first visit with most wrongful death attorneys is free. Furthermore, they will often not charge you unless there is a settlement.