Losing a loved one impacts the entire family in profound ways. Wrongful death lawsuits are an attempt to respond to the tragic, unnecessary death of a loved one caused by the negligent, reckless or intentional behavior of an individual or corporation. Wrongful death lawsuits allow the surviving family members to seek financial compensation for their loss, which can help to alleviate the burden of funeral costs and other incurred expenses. If you recently lost a loved one as a result of another person’s wrongful act, it is important to contact a wrongful death attorney to make sure you receive the concrete support necessary to begin the healing process and secure your financial future.
California’s wrongful death law allows the decedent’s surviving family members or estate to sue for damages when a person dies as the result of another person’s wrongful act. A wrongful death settlement may pay damages for:
- burial and funeral fees
- loss of income, financial support and/ or benefits
- loss of companionship
- emotional trauma, pain and suffering
Who qualifies as a ‘survivor’ of the deceased varies from state to state, but in California, family members who are entitled to damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include the deceased’s
- domestic partner
- children (and other minor children, such as stepchildren, who were dependent on the deceased for at least 50% of their financial support)
- anyone else who would be entitled to the deceased’s property under CA law
As the best wrongful death attorneys [Los Angeles], we’ll help you understand some of the most common causes that can constitute a wrongful death lawsuit.
What are the most common causes of wrongful death?
When medical professionals don’t execute a “reasonable duty of care” to a patient, they may be sued for medical malpractice in the event of wrongful death. Patients trust healthcare providers to be capable and competent in the care they provide, but if those medical professionals perform their duties in an unprofessional manner or are unethical or negligent—intentionally or not—that can be considered malpractice. Medical malpractice can result in the deceased patient’s family filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the person (or persons) responsible for their family member’s unexpected death.
Types of malpractice that can constitute a wrongful death include misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, emergency room errors and prescription drug errors. Depending on the situation, the hospital may also be held liable.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents involving cars, motorcycles and commercial trucks are very common types of wrongful death lawsuits. These lawsuits happen when a loved one dies because of someone’s irresponsible actions when operating a motor vehicle. These irresponsible actions might be caused by another’s distracted driving, which can be visual (checking a phone or GPS screen), manual (eating or drinking, applying makeup) or cognitive (talking with a passenger, daydreaming, being preoccupied with personal matters) in nature – or some combination thereof.
Bicycle accidents are included in this category, as they are a common cause of wrongful death. Bike riders are often hard to spot and are therefore vulnerable to accidents with larger vehicles.
Boating and Drowning Accidents
In California where the weather is (usually) mild and there is a large swath of coastline, boating accidents are, unfortunately, rather common. According to statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard, in the calendar year 2020, the USCG counted 5,265 boating accidents that involved 767 deaths. The most common causes of boating accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout and operator inexperience. Alcohol use, excessive speed, mechanical failure and weather conditions also contribute to boating accidents, just as they do motor vehicle accidents.
According to the USCG data, open motorboats produce the most injuries (cabined watercraft tend to be safer), followed by sailboats, canoes, and kayaks. Collisions with other recreational vessels are the greatest direct cause of accidents, followed by collisions with fixed objects and then the boat’s swamping. Unfortunately, boating accidents often cause serious injuries and death, primarily from drowning and trauma.
If you have a loved one who died in a boating accident, we suggest exploring whether a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate. Our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys will talk with you and learn whether recovering financial compensation due to negligence for a boating accident is the right course of action.
There are specific rules, regulations and safety standards in place in most workplace environments, but they are not always followed by employers or employees. Sometimes, a deviation from the regulations happens in order to cut costs; other times it’s a matter of complacency. In cases where a loved one’s death is the result of a workplace accident, a wrongful death suit may be warranted.
The largest share of workplace fatalities is due to transportation incidents. Other causes of workplace deaths include fires and explosions, exposure to harmful substances or environments, falls, slips, and trips, unintentional overdose, and suicide.
Sometimes, someone besides the employer is fully or partially responsible for an on-the-job fatality. Examples of liable third parties are contractors, subcontractors, building owners, landowners, equipment designers and manufacturers, machine operators, vendors and vehicle owners and operators.
Regardless of the reason the employer is not following safety standards and protocol, if your loved one’s death was due to their employer’s negligence, then a wrongful death claim is a reasonable action to consider.
To pursue a wrongful death claim related to a fire, the survivors need to establish that the fire was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing and that this caused the death of their loved one. They may need to provide evidence such as witness statements, expert testimony, and documentation of the fire and its aftermath. It is important for survivors to consult with an experienced attorney who can evaluate their case, advise them on their legal options, and help them navigate the complex process of pursuing a wrongful death claim.
In California, one cause of fire-related deaths is wildfires. Every year, California experiences wildfires that cause tremendous loss, both of human life and of property. Wildfires can often be prevented by the diligent efforts of electric companies, property owners, utility companies and others.
Malfunctions within an apartment or home are another cause of fire-related death, and are usually due to defective products, such as an oven. Fires can not only damage the whole home but the entire neighborhood as well. Candles and electrical system defects are also common culprits. Parties that may find themselves defendants in a fire-related wrongful death claim include:
- gas and electric companies – these are the most common type of defendants in wrongful death related lawsuits
- electrical services companies – for faulty electric components, maintenance, and wiring
- manufacturing companies – for defective products that caused the fire in the first place
- businesses – for example, those that have failed to properly maintain the fire sprinklers
- contractors – those who have failed to properly construct fireproof homes
- property owners – property owners in the neighborhood that have failed to maintain their fire extinguishers and detectors could be held liable under the negligence theory for harm caused to other homes
Every day, you set foot on someone else’s property, be it a sidewalk, a friend’s house, a school, office or store. The owners of these properties have an obligation to keep them “reasonably safe” for all residents, visitors and employees. If someone dies on another’s premises and the property owner’s negligence was the cause of the death, the decedent’s survivors may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against that business, property owner, homeowner, or other entity to hold them accountable.
Types of premises liability cases that may involve wrongful death:
- slips, trips, and other falls
- deck collapse or broken railing
- falls and other injuries on stairs
- pool accidents including drownings and diving accidents
- dog bites or animal attacks
- poor lighting
- deficient security
- intentional acts
Music concerts and festivals draw huge crowds, so it’s no surprise that accidents have marred several of these gatherings over the years. For example, there is the infamous Astroworld incident in which a crowd surged forward at rapper Travis Scott’s concert and resulted in hundreds of concert injuries and 10 deaths and has led to multiple wrongful death lawsuits.
Travis Scott is one of the parties named in the Astroworld suits, which, collectively, cite his failure of duty in care (not ensuring that proper precautions were taken to keep attendees safe), incitement of violence and promoting risk, lack of warning, and response (his refusal in the moment to end the performance). Other defendants have also been named in these lawsuits, including Apple Music who was responsible for streaming the concert, Scott’s record label, the company that manages the stadium, the company that promoted the concert and sold the tickets, the owner of the venue, the company that provided medics at the concert, and the companies that provided the security personnel.
Speak to the Best Wrongful Death Attorney [Los Angeles]
When a loved one is taken at the hands of another, it can be hard to overcome the pain. It is important to lean on each other for moral support, and seek professional counseling when needed. John J. Perlstein understands your grief and will do everything he can to hold the responsible parties accountable. While we can not reverse time, we will fight relentlessly to get you maximum financial compensation. We are widely recognized as the best wrongful death law firm in Los Angeles, winning settlements of up to $10 million dollars. Our firm has been helping families of victims seek monetary recourse for over 25 years and can guide you through a wrongful death claim with great care, sensitivity and expertise. To set up a free consultation about a potential wrongful death claim, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (213) 252-1070.