The life of Tiger Woods seems to have enough fodder to keep the paparazzi busy. But here we aren’t talking about any of his infamous flings but a wrongful death lawsuit that came knocking down from a former employee at his Florida restaurant, The Woods.
Yes, the 15-time Major winner, along with his girlfriend, Erica Herman, who happens to the manager of the flagship restaurant has been sued by the family of the deceased. As per the filed lawsuit, Nicholas Immesberger, 24, was served alcohol to the extent of severe intoxication that resulted in a fatal crash in Dec 2018.
The plaintiffs allege that the employers were in cognizance of the victim’s addiction to alcohol and yet deliberately allowed to drive in an inebriated state on that fateful day after completing the shift at 3 pm. The sheer negligence on the part of the on-site workers and the management compelled the bereaved family to file a lawsuit in Palm Beach County court.
Unfortunately, on the basis of inconsequential evidence, the golfer has been acquitted. However, it underpins the imperatives to make your wrongful death lawsuit strong enough in the eyes of the law.
Without any delay, let’s understand the 5 important steps you must undertake to pursue a wrongful death case in California:
1. Only Entitled Plaintiffs
Not every known person of the decedent is liable to sue the culprits. As per California’s Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60 selected members are granted the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Surviving partner
- Children ( step and adopted as well)
- Putative spouse and children from that relation
- Parents and siblings if financially dependent on the victim.
Most family members are versed with their fundamental rights if they have suffered a personal loss before. However, California’s law does not give you the right to sue the same defendant multiple times. This “one-action rule,” prevents undue harassment of the accused and encourages all the survivors to act together in the lawsuit.
2. Who Can Be Sued?
A wrongful death suit can be filed against any individual or company whose act of negligence or poor intent claimed innocent lives. Generally, many wrongful death lawsuits are filed in the case of:
- Motor vehicle accidents – car, truck, or motorcycle
- Collision with pedestrians
- Medical negligence
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products/drugs
- Dog attacks
- Using toxic chemicals ( e.g. lead) on construction sites
- Criminal activities
- Premises liability
Typically, the accused party has to violate the ‘duty of care’ towards the deceased person to face any such wrongful death claim. For instance, car drivers are under obligation to drive carefully as per traffic laws and prevent injury to other drivers/pedestrians. In the absence of the same, you are bound to face legal repercussions in California.
3. Reasonable Compensation
Many defendants settle a case out of court to avoid legal hassles involving a trial that may run for years. Often, it is the wisest decision, especially for the plaintiff and prevents a long & frustrating trial for the survivors.
However, determining the exact amount for damages is of utmost importance. Remember, you aren’t swindling money from the defendant but seeking money to compensate for the personal loss and securing your financial future.
Remember, every wrongful death lawsuit is unique, and thus there is no standard formula for estimating the exact compensation. Be reasonable and not reckless in calculating the compensation amount.
Typically, this includes
- Medical expenses before the death
- Loss of income due to the untimely demise of the person that directly affects the living of the family and other dependents.
- Compensate for the loss of inherited property/benefits
- Loss of goods and services provided by the deceased
- Punitive damages
Also, many defendants quibble about the damages if they are way too much. And even make a cheap offer to settle the aggrieved party which is emotionally weak and incompetent. In such situations, seek the assistance of a professional and specialized wrongful death attorney in California to outdo the culprit party and win the befitting claim!
Also, many US states have fixed a cap on the damages but thankfully, California is not held by any such restrictions.
4. Gather Concrete Legal Evidence
Do not make castles in the air just because you have sued the responsible person or entity. Go hook, line, and sinker to gather all the credible proof that convinces the jury.
Losing a loved one is a mighty blow to your family but this is not sufficient to put the blame on the other person. Right? For instance, if you’ve suffered a personal loss in a motorcycle accident, documented evidence ought to be there to prove the accused party guilty under California’s laws
Get all the facts and information right to build a consolidated defense in the civil court. The preliminary evidence includes but not limited to:
- Official police report
- Witness testimony
- Medical records and coroner’s statement/report
- Clear images of the accident spot to decipher the damage
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list and you may have to work harder to make the other party stand fully culpable for the wrongful death. In California, if you fail to prove the defendant fully-negligent, the plaintiff may have to settle down with a lesser than expected compensation.
5. Just Too Late To File Lawsuit
California’s laws are strict and do not make any exceptions if you’re grieving the death of your loved ones. As per the state’s statute of limitations, survivors are supposed to file the case within two years from the date of the decedent’s death.
If you’re filing the case against government-based departments or any similar alliances, you simply can’t afford to sit and relax else you’re bound to forgo your right to receive deserving compensation for the loss.
We recommend the affected party ( plaintiffs) to proactively approach the wrongful death case and preserve their chance to win the desired compensation without any bargain.
How To File A Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Whether it’s your spouse, child or any other family member, losing your loved ones is a loss no amount of money can compensate for. However, you can pursue the legal course of action to hold the person or entity accountable under the jurisdiction of California.
If the defendant resists or refuses to settle down on mutual terms ( including compensation), do not think twice about approaching the Ernst Group to file a complaint in civil court for wrongful death.
A 30-day time period shall be given to the defendant to respond to the official complaint. In the failure of which, the trial shall proceed and continue till the final verdict is not announced.
Schedule a FREE consultation at (805) 678-0272 to start your fight against the injustice meted out to the victim and family.
If you’re met with adversities like losing someone special, consulting lawyers for legal help is the most reasonable decision to secure your tomorrow!