Nothing can compare to the devastation of losing a loved one unexpectedly. In addition, the pain and sorrow involved may be enhanced when you’re loved one is lost on account of another party’s negligent actions. Such negligence can be perpetrated by a single individual, medical professional, manufacturer, company, organization, or government entity. Regardless of the at-fault party, the family suffering the loss can have a difficult time absorbing why and how the negligence could occur that led to their loved one’s wrongful death.
In addition to the emotional pain involved, the survivors of the wrongful death of a loved one can lead to significant financial burdens for the family. This is especially true when the deceased individual was the main breadwinner. The loss of existing and potential income involved can leave the family struggling to pay bills and make ends meet. The available financial remedies for surviving family members who lost a loved one can include life insurance coverage or a wrongful death claim.
What about life insurance coverage?
When it comes to life insurance, Financial Advisor online magazine reports that 37% of Americans claim to not have any life insurance coverage. For the remaining 63% who have at least some level of life insurance, and unexpected death of a family member can still result in financial difficulties for the surviving loved ones. Complications with obtaining the necessary coverage can arise depending on particular life circumstances such as divorce, beneficiaries who are deceased or not found, or when the insurance company refuses to pay. In these cases, you may need to file wrongful death claim.
Economic and non-economic wrongful death claims in Los Angeles
Surviving family members who are eligible can recover both economic and non-economic damages through a wrongful death claim. The available damages you may have access to include:
- Healthcare expenses incurred prior to the loved one’s death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of household services
- Loss of income, benefits, and expected inheritance
- Loss of companionship and society
- Loss of affection, guidance, moral support, and community
Punitive damages in wrongful death suits
The above listed damages are compensatory in nature – they are designed to provide compensation to claimants for specific losses sustained as a direct or indirect result of the loved one’s passing. The majority of payouts in wrongful death cases comprise compensatory damages. However, in certain cases, claimant may be entitled to receive punitive damages. This is often the case when the death of the loved one was caused by a defendant who perpetrated a felony homicide upon the deceased and was convicted of that felony.
Survival actions and punitive damages
Survival actions may also serve as the grounds for awarding punitive damages to the plaintiff. These actions often involve wrongful death claims. In a survival action, the plaintiff files a separate lawsuit that allows the heirs of the deceased the chance to sue on behalf of his or her estate for actions the deceased would have had the legal right to file suit over had he or she not died.
An example of a survival action in a wrongful death suit is as follows:
Your loved one undergoes routine surgery but receives substandard care leading to complications and subsequently dies six weeks later. In this case, your family has the right to bring two separate lawsuits against the responsible parties for the death. The first is a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of life involved. The second is a survival action regarding the medical negligence and malpractice that took place after the surgery and before your loved one’s death.
If you believe you and your family have grounds for a wrongful death claim in California, our experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys are here to help you gather the necessary evidence and prove your claim for compensation. To schedule a free consultation about your case, give us a call today at 310.776.6390 or send us a request through our contact form.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.