Premises Liability and Wrongful Death
How Property Owners Could Be Liable for a Wrongful Death
All property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe. Therefore, a property owner may be held liable for failing to maintain their premises in safe conditions if someone is killed because of their negligence.
However, a person who has lost his or her life will not be able to file a claim on their own behalf. Therefore, surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the aggrieved individual to recover damages.
Below, our expert premises liability attorneys will discuss premises liability as it relates to wrongful death claims. If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of a premises liability accident in California, our attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about premises liability claims and available damages.
Premises Liability Explained
According to California Civil Code 1714(a): “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person.”
Determining who’s at-fault in a premises liability case is complex. Premises liability lawsuits require the victim, or surviving family, to prove that he or she was harmed or killed because of a property owner/manager’s negligence. An injured individual must specifically prove that the:
- Defendant leased, owned, occupied, or was controlling the property where the incident took place
- Defendant acted negligently regarding use or maintenance of the property
- Plaintiff was hurt
- Defendant’s negligence was the primary factor that caused a plaintiff’s injuries
As mentioned, all property owners have a duty of care to reasonably maintain their premises. A duty of care for a property owner essentially encompasses any actions that a reasonable property owner should take or should have taken in similar circumstances.
Causes of Death Leading to Premises Liability Claims
- Building collapse
- Daycare injuries
- Inadequate lighting
- Water spills, flooding, or leaks
- Negligent or inadequate security
- Physical assault
- Harmful toxins and chemicals
- Failure to properly maintain the premises
- Slip and falls
- Swimming pool accidents
- Dangerous sidewalks
- Violation of housing codes or building codes
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
As mentioned, an individual who lost his or her life due to a property owner’s negligence cannot file a claim for damages. Therefore, surviving family members are entitled to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. A surviving spouse, or registered domestic partner, has first priority when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim for damages. The children of the deceased may file, as well.
In order to bring a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the landlord, or whomever was in charge, was guilty and that their negligence was the primary reason why an aggrieved individual lost his or her life.
The statute of limitations in a wrongful death claim is two years from when the death occurred.
In order to successfully prove premises liability against a property owner, surviving family members must show that:
- The property owner had a duty of care toward the deceased individual(s).
- The property owner breached their duty of care by failing to take action that another reasonable property owner would have given under the same circumstances.
- The property owner’s negligence directly caused the death.
- Surviving family members suffered losses as a result of the wrongful death.
Available damages in a wrongful death claim may include:
- Lost benefits
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and support
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.
Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.
Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help
If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a premises liability accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.