When a loved one dies, it is always a sad matter, but it may be worse when the death arose due to irresponsible conduct. If you believe that the death of a loved one was due to unlawful or negligent behavior, you should consider filing suit for wrongful death.
A Tragedy in Northern California
This tragic story from the Los Angeles Times illustrates the necessity of wrongful death litigation. Rosa Rivera, the mother of a 17-year-old student, is suing for $100 million in general and punitive damages because of the death of her daughter, Jennifer Bonilla. The death of Ms. Bonilla occurred when a FedEx freight truck crashed into her college-bound bus in Northern California. When the accident occurred, it produced a fiery car accident. The motor accident resulted in the death of five high school students and three adult chaperones headed for Humboldt State University. Both drivers also died.
In the wrongful death suit, Ms. Rivera is claiming that FedEx vehicles have a history of catching fire. In the suit, she is asserting that FedEx has negligently managed their freight trucks and ignored previous problems of vehicles lighting on fire due to improperly loaded cargo, driver error, or mechanical problems. Some witnesses declared that they saw the FedEx freight truck on fire before it even crashed into the bus. In addition to FedEx, Ms. Rivera is also suing the estate of the FedEx driver, Timothy Paul Evans, and the bus company, Silverado Stages, as her party claims that the bus did not contain enough emergency exits to allow for escape.
What are damages?
Ms. Rivera’s lawsuit seeks two types of damages. There are two principal types of damages: general (also known as compensatory or actual damages) and punitive damages. The purpose of general damages is to provide just compensation for a victim. In the case of a wrongful death suit, general damages would include projecting the potential income lost when attempting to provide restitution to the family.
Punitive damages essentially seek to punish the guilty party for unlawful behavior. The rationale behind punitive damages is that by requiring more compensation for such misconduct, it provides incentive to prevent the re-occurrence of such behavior.
What are features of wrongful death litigation?
In a wrongful death action, the death of a person must be the result of a wrongful act or negligent comportment of another party. If a judge or jury did not believe that the death occurred because of negligence or a wrongful act, a party would be unable to win their case. In the state of California, claims are usually filed by someone with a close connection to the deceased. Although there are exceptions, it usually signifies a surviving spouse, parent, domestic partner, or child.
If you lost a loved one due to the wrongful or neglectful behavior of another party, you should contact the Appel Law Firm LLP. We have a great deal of experience and a strong reputation in the field of wrongful death litigation. Our staff is composed of dedicated lawyers who will do everything possible to help you win your case.