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What is a Wrongful Death Action?
A wrongful death action is a claim for damages that stem from the conduct, action or omission by another party, which caused the decedent’s injury and ultimately his or her premature death. State and federal laws have wrongful death statutes, which give certain persons the right to bring a claim for damages they have sustained as a result of the loss of their loved one. Generally, this would be monetary losses, but it may also be loss of companionship, loss to the estate or additional losses depending on the circumstances of the case.
Family members or dependents of the decedent may bring a claim for wrongful death on their own behalf, or individuals may bring a claim for wrongful death as representatives of the deceased person. Therefore, a claimant (person bringing the wrongful death claim) may be the deceased individual’s parent, spouse, sibling, child, or an executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. Additionally, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews may have standing to bring a wrongful death claim if they are the decedent’s heirs at law. In some states, the claimant may also be the decedent’s domestic partner. Cohabiting partners usually may not bring a wrongful death claim, unless the applicable law recognizes common-law marriage and the decedent and potential claimant were considered married at common-law. In order for an individual (family member, spouse, partner or personal representative) to bring a wrongful death claim, he or she must be able to prove to the court who they are (in relation to the decedent), the relationship/connection he or she had with the victim and his or her right to bring a claim before the court for loss. If the claimant is able to bring a claim for wrongful death, the defendant (or responsible party) does not have to be an individual. The liable party — the party who would have been liable for the decedent’s injuries had he or she not died from them — may also be the decedent’s employer, a corporation/business or a governmental entity.
Wrongful death is often used by the court as a factor to consider when determining the amount of damages in a personal injury claim. Often the fact finder (judge or jury) will be able to consider the permanent loss of the decedent’s earnings, due to his or her wrongful death. The claimant may be entitled to the amount of wages the decedent would have earned for the remainder of his or her life. This is determined by the salary amount at the time of death (some jurisdictions will also allow foreseeable wage increases), or support payments, for the remainder of the decedent’s life (based on probable life expectancy). Punitive damages may be available in a wrongful-death action. These damages will give the claimant additional money to punish the responsible party; punitive damages are not intended to compensate the claimant for his or her loss. Not all jurisdictions will offer punitive damages for a wrongful death claim. It is important to know the law in your jurisdiction when determining what type of damages to pursue in your wrongful death action.
If you have lost a beloved family member due to accidental death and you would like to learn more about your legal rights and options, now is the time to contact us. Whenever a death is caused by the misconduct or negligence of another person, the family of the deceased individual has the right to take appropriate legal action. Whether the accidental death in your family resulted from a car accident or a catastrophic injury, the Law Offices of Markarian is here to provide you with outstanding legal representation.
Deaths Caused by Negligence
In the state of California, an accidental death is defined as killing that occurs due to another person’s misconduct, recklessness or negligence. Accidental deaths may result from accidents, injuries or even from people using products that are defective. Anytime a death involves negligence, it may be ruled as accidental or wrongful.
Often times, in cases involving accidental death, families are not sure if the passing of their loved ones involved third party negligence. For this reason, accidental deaths may be misclassified by police and state coroners unless families employ a Los Angeles accidental death attorney that can investigate cases, look into the circumstances surrounding deaths and prove negligence was involved, like the lawyers at the Law Offices of Markarian.
When people think of animal attacks, the thing that usually comes to mind is a vision of a dog striking, biting and causing injuries. Yet, there are numerous attacks every year in the state of California that are caused by animals other than dogs. Sadly, many cities do not have specific laws related to animal attacks, which can lead injured victims to feel as if they do not have options.
Whether you were attacked by a wild animal owned by a neighbor or victimized by an animal while visiting a government facility, such as a zoo, the law is on your side when other people’s negligence is involved. In order to fully exercise your legal options and protect your rights as a personal injury victim, you will want to contact an animal attack lawyer, like the lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher Paul Mesaros. At the Law Offices of Markarian, we know that when people have been ruthlessly attacked by animals, they not only suffer from physical injuries but also devastating emotional trauma. We aim to alleviate our clients’ suffering by presenting them with legal services that produce results for their personal injury cases.
Dog bite cases are quite interesting, and the personal injuries suffered by victims are sometimes quite severe. If you have been injured by a dog (or your dog has bitten someone), the following is a general outline California dog bite law.
Question: I got bit by a dog. Can I sue the owner? (Or: My dog bit someone. Am I legally liable?) Answer: Quite possibly – though there are exceptions to the rule.
CA Dog Bite Law “Strict Liability”
California has a dog-bite statute listed under its Civil Code section 3342 which states in part: “(a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” This means that under California law, even if a dog is good natured throughout its life but then one day out of the blue decides to bite somebody in a single instance or consume a small child, the owner could still be liable. Other states without such “strict liability” statutes will oftentimes have laws that will hold owners responsible for bites only if their dog was previously known to have bitten before or have an otherwise hostile disposition. These are often referred to as “one-bite” states, because after a dog bites once, the dog will often thenceforth be deemed to be knowingly hostile.
CA Dog Bite Law “Negligence”
Dog owners can also be held liable for their dog biting people under a general theory of negligence, even if a state has no specific dog bite statutes of any kind. Under negligence, a dog owner must take reasonably prudent steps to prevent reasonably foreseeable attacks by their pet in order to avoid liability. (This differs from “strict liability” statues which can hold the owner liable even if they prove that they took reasonable precautions to prevent their dog from biting someone.) Just what these prudent steps should be will always be different with each circumstance. The preventive safety measures with a large aggressive Pit Bull will likely be different than those concerning a small mild-mannered Chihuahua . Oftentimes, safety measures will concern the question of the dog being properly leashed. Is the dog confined to an area where children won’t be able to accidentally wander into? Has the owner done everything reasonable to see that the dog is under control around others?
There are general exceptions to the rule of dog owner liability, even in states with strict liability dog-bite statutes.
Exception Number One
The police, military or government agencies that use dogs in the course of their work or investigations that end up biting people. Translation: If you rape and pillage a community while smuggling a ton of heroin and then get bit by the German Shepherd the cops use to chase you down, don’t think that you can get rich by suing the police. (Though admittedly this immunity often only applies towards bites against criminal or hostile suspects. Innocent bystanders may still have a valid claim, depending on the law of a given state.)
Exception Number Two
Trespassers. If someone wanders on to your property without your permission, many states will not hold you liable if your dog ends up biting them. In fact, many people keep dogs specifically in the hopes that they will keep out trespassers.California ‘s dog-bite statute specifically allows for this exception. Please note however that whether or not someone is a “trespasser” is itself a separate legal question. For instance, the law allows for postal employees to travel on to your property without your permission in order to deliver your mail. The “trespass” exception would not protect you from liability if your dog bites the mailman in this instance.
Exception Number Three
Assumption of the risk. If someone knows that a certain action could likely result in a dog biting them and proceeds to take that action anyway, that person is said to have “assumed the risk” and will not be able to hold the owner liable. (Example: If a dog owner tells you, “Don’t go into my back yard and play with my dog. He is in a bad mood today and has been trying to bite anything that moves!” Then afterwards, you completely ignore the warning by going into the owner’s back yard and playing with the dog. You will unlikely be able to hold the owner liable if you get bit since you assumed the risk in this instance. Sometimes, the assumption of the risk is implied. For instance, courts have found that strict liability statues do not apply to dogs that bite veterinarians during the course of treating the pet. Such risks are apparently in the nature of the business for them.
Exception Number Four
Negligence. Some states may shield the owner from liability when a person negligently contributes to the dog bite. In practical terms, this defense operates similarly to “assumption of the risk”. The only difference is that one doesn’t ask “What did the bite victim know before approaching the dog?” Instead, one asks, “What should the victim have known, assuming that he or she is a reasonable person?” A straightforward example would be someone approaching a dog after ignoring a clearly posted “Beware of Dog” sign. Courts may find that there was either an assumption of the risk or contributory negligence in this instance.
Exception Number Five
Provocation. In instances where someone mistreats or provokes a dog into biting him, courts will usually not hold the owner liable. For instance, unjustifiably beating a dog will often provoke it to bite back in retaliation. Just what constitutes legal “provocation” is often a question of fact for the courts to decide in each instance. Generally, mere attempts to pet, feed or otherwise peacefully interact a dog will not be considered sufficient provocation. There usually must be some action that courts would recognize as mistreatment.
If you have a question about a dog bite or a possible dog bite case, do not hesitate to call our personal injury attorneys. They are available to answer your questions.
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“Thank you, Christopher. I appreciate you. Best thing I did was the switch to you. You’ve been awesome. I wish you got paid more. You deserve it.”
“Thank you Chris. I want to thank you with all my heart. I know i can count on you because you treat me like a family member and for that I’m grateful”
“Hey Chris, thank you o much for helping us out with the real estate and family issues we had brother. If I need anything you’re my lawyer for life. Great job!”
“Even thought this accident was life changing for us, I’m really glad you’re the one that helped us through it.”
“You’ve done a great job for us Chris and despite the loss of our friend from this accident, we’re glad we got to know you throughout this difficult experience.”
“You’ve become a family lawyer for all of the my family and friends who get involved in accidents or just want to chat with a friendly lawyer about any issues they may have.”
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“The loss of my husband was devastating to my family and I. I thank God you were there for us when we needed the help”
“My wife and I were both pleased by the care and management of my accident case. This is particularly true regarding the voluminous and confusing medical claims paperwork. Chris did a terrific job. And while we all wish that my accident never happened, Chris’s hard work made it more bearable. Thank you.”
At the Law Office of Markarian Law Group, we are committed to excellence in representing injured people. With experience since 2013 and hundreds of satisfied clients, we offer experience, professionalism, and a proven track record of success. Through our offices in Yucaipa, we serve the entire Southern California area.
The team of Markarian Law Group has experience in practicing law in Southern California for over a century and is a well-known figure in Southern California legal circles. Christopher Markarian, was recognized one of the best 10 best attorneys exceptional outstanding client service by the American Institute of American Attorneys.
We also provide services for our Spanish and Arabic, and Armenian speaking clientele.
If you have been injured in an accident, you want a principled, knowledgeable attorney who keeps your interests foremost in mind. That is exactly what you will find at the Law Office of Markarian Law Group. In our view, picking a personal injury lawyer is as important as selecting a doctor. Our reputation for conducting ourselves in a highly professional, ethical, and compassionate manner is well known. We aspire to the highest ideals of our profession and are completely committed to pursuing fair and reasonable compensation and obtaining justice for each of our injured clients and their families. Contact us at our Yucaipa, Ca office for more information about how we can help.
A Southern California personal injury law firm you can rely on.
When you or a family member is injured, you can rely on us for experience and quality service. Although many personal injury cases settle before trial, there are also cases that must be tried before a jury. Whether handling an injury claim resulting from a car accident, truck accident or a wrongful death claim related to a work-related construction accident, every case we handle gets our full attention and our clients receive personalized service.
We do not believe in taking a “cookie cutter” approach to personal injury cases; each situation has its own unique aspects and we prepare it thoroughly to present the strongest case possible for you. The diligence of our preparation makes us ready for the possibility of litigation and shows the opposing side that we are prepared to fight for your rights. Being ready and able to try a case is the best way to resolve it, even if trial is never necessary.
Many people may never need the services of an accident attorney. Yet, in a split second, you could find yourself or someone you care about injured. Our advice is to have a seasoned and knowledgeable attorney in mind. For more than ten years now, clients have counted on us for the representation they need.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us.
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