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Important information about wrongful death suits

A wrongful death lawsuit can happen after a Los Angeles resident is killed by another party's negligence, misconduct or illegal activity. Generally, surviving close family members will have the right to make a claim for damages in such cases.

Wrongful death claims often rely on evidence from a criminal conviction to prove liability of an at-fault party. However, it is not always necessary for the liable party to be guilty of a crime. Take the football star O.J. Simpson for example. He was not convicted of murder, but he was later found liable in civil court for the wrongful death of the individuals he was unsuccessfully accused of murdering.

In order to prove that an individual is liable for wrongful death damages, generally the following elements need to be shown during court proceedings:

  • A human being had died;
  • The death was the result of another party's negligence and/or intent to harm;
  • Surviving family members have suffered monetary damages stemming from the death; and,
  • A personal representative has been appointed to administer the deceased person's estate.

Wrongful death claims commonly arise from medical malpractice; car, plane, bicycle or motorcycle accidents; exposure to hazardous substances; accidents that happen during supervised activities; and criminal behavior. If you have a loved one who has died as a result of one of these or another kind of circumstance, it is important not to rule out the possibility of a wrongful death action. Although no amount of litigation will ever bring back a loved one lost at the hands of a negligent or unlawful party, the process of pursuing a wrongful death action can help family members obtain a sense of justice and closure relating to the incident.

Source: Findlaw, "Wrongful death overview," accessed Aug. 11, 2015

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