When a person dies due to the legal fault of another person or entity, the survivors may seek compensation, in the form of a wrongful death claim for the survivors’ lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral and legal expenses.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative on behalf of survivors who suffer damages from the decedent’s death. That person is usually the executor of the decedent’s estate, and may be one of the following:
- Immediate family member
- Life partner
- Financial dependent
- Putative spouse
- Distant family member
- Anyone who suffers financially
- Parents of a deceased fetus
Who May Be Sued for Wrongful Death
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against persons, companies, certain government agencies, and employees for acting negligently and for acting intentionally.
What Damages Are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Damages in wrongful death lawsuits vary from state to state and may be “capped” or limited in the amount and type of damages, as in medical malpractice claims. Damages may include:
- Economic damages (economic loss and medical and funeral expenses)
- Non-economic damages (survivors’ mental anguish, loss of companionship or care)
- Punitive damages (designed to punish)
- Interest and attorney’s fees (interest on damages from when incurred to when collected)
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
There is a time limit (called the “statute of limitations”) on bringing a wrongful death lawsuit that begins when the harm is discovered (“date of discovery”). Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the misconduct that caused the death. With minors, persons with a mental disability, and in cases involving fraud or intentional acts, the time limit may be longer.
Ehline, Michael. “Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney Experts.” Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. April 02, 2017. Accessed May 12, 2017. http://www.ehlinelaw.com/los-angeles-wrongful-death-attorney-experts/.