Tragedy Strikes in California

A recent report in the Pasadena News describes a tragic situation that nobody would want to confront: the senseless death of a child. However, when such a tragedy strikes, a person should know that the law can provide them with some type of recourse. While a person may be unable to resume a relationship with the loved one, the law allows loved ones to turn toward wrongful death litigation.

The article from the Pasadena News describes a settlement between the city of Pasadena and the father of an unarmed teenager that police officers killed while responding to reports of a robbery. The death arose because a person lied when calling the police, declaring that an armed robbery was in progress. The caller eventually admitted to inventing the story so that the police would arrive sooner. Two police officers shot the young man eight times on a poorly lit Pasadena street, with some of the shots taking place from less than two feet away.

One of the primary lessons to take from this situation is that wrongful death litigation can be a lengthy process. The police shooting occurred in March 2012 and the parties needed more than two years to reach a settlement. While the article deals with the settlement between the teenager’s father and the city, the mother of the deceased also only settled her lawsuit with the city of Pasadena a few days before.

bay area wrongful death attorneyAn internal review and the District Attorney’s Office both declared that the shooting had been lawful, but this determination does not prevent a party from bringing forward a lawsuit. When the District Attorney’s Office asserted the legality of the shooting, it meant that no criminal charges would apply toward the officers that killed the young man. However, the family still has the ability to seek civil remedies for the loss of their son.

What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death claim?

The wrongful death statutes of California are listed under Section 377 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. There are typically four elements that a party must establish for a successful wrongful death lawsuit. First, the party must demonstrate that the death arose, in whole or in part, from the conduct of the defendant. Second, the defendant must have been negligent or liable for the victim’s death. Third, in California, another element for bringing a cause for wrongful death is that there must be a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries, or dependents. Section 377.60 (a) qualifies that domestic partners are permitted to bring forward claims for wrongful death. However, in order to qualify under a domestic partnership, 377.60 (f) (1) establishes that the domestic partner of the deceased be in a registered domestic partnership at the time of the partner’s death in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 297 of the Family Code. Thus, if you had been or are in a domestic partnership at the time of a wrongful death, that will not preclude you from bringing forward a claim. And lastly, there must have been monetary damages from the victim’s death.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

If you have questions concerning wrongful death in California, contact the Appel Law Firm LLP. We have an excellent reputation in the wrongful death litigation and can provide you immediate assistance. Feel free to contact us for an initial consultation and to discuss your options moving forward.

Photo Credit: dfirecop via Compfight cc

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