The parents of a 21-year-old man who was found dead in Demi Moore's swimming pool back in 2015 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trust that owns the property and the person who was hosting the party when the fatal accident occurred. According to a City News Service report, the actress has not been named in the complaint. The parents of the man brought the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the Tree House Trust, trustee Bessy Wong and Lenny Hernandez, identified in the complaint as the host of the party and house manager.
Lawsuit Alleges Dangerous Conditions
The parents of the deceased man are seeking unspecified damages on allegations of wrongful death and negligence. The fatal incident occurred July 19, 2014 at the Beverly Hills residence. Police ruled it as accidental. However, the lawsuit states that when the man arrived at the home, he told the host that he could not swim making it unlikely that he knowingly entered the deep end of the pool.
The suit alleges that the party was hosted with alcohol and that there were a number of dangerous conditions at the premises for which the man received no warning including the depth of the pool, which reached 9 to 10 feet. The lawsuit also points out that there were no depth markers on the pool and likely no functioning lights. There were also decorative rocks and other tripping hazards around the swimming pool, the lawsuit states. Moore or her family members were not at the home at the time.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim arises when one person died as the result of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of another person or entity. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit, which differs from a criminal case for homicide. A murder case is brought by the state in which the guilty person is penalized with prison time or receives the death penalty, depending on the circumstances of the case. The family of the deceased, under California law, can bring a civil wrongful death claim to court even if a criminal case is ongoing. In a civil wrongful death claim, the defendant is found liable for the death of the deceased and is asked to pay damages to the victim's family for their tremendous loss. To better understand your legal rights it is a good idea to take advantage of any offers by a wrongful death lawyer Los Angles CA for free consultations.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The law clearly states who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. Some of the parties that can bring a wrongful death claim against defendants include the decedent's surviving spouse or domestic partner and/or surviving children. If there is no one surviving in the decedent's line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by an individual who would be entitled to the property of the decedent.
This could include the deceased person's parents, siblings or someone who was financially dependent on the decedent at the time of his or her death. Other parties than can bring a wrongful death lawsuit include the decedent's putative spouse and children of that spouse and stepchildren.
Damages That Can Be Sought
Families of deceased victims can seek and obtain a variety of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. The specific amounts of what they receive might very well depend on the facts of each case, which are rather unique. Damages are divided according to whether they compensate the estate for losses associated with the death or the surviving family members for the personal losses they have suffered due to a loved one's death.
Some of the damages that are sought in wrongful death cases include:
- Medical expenses, particularly if the deceased person was hospitalized and the family incurred medical bills as a result.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Lost income including future income the decedent would reasonably have been expected to earn had he or she lived.
- Lost benefits including pension, health insurance, etc.
- Value of household services.
- Loss of anticipated financial support
- Loss of love, attention, moral support and guidance.
The Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
There are four critical elements that form the basis for a wrongful death case. Surviving family members who are filing a lawsuit or the plaintiffs in the case must prove each element in order to win a case and successfully obtain compensation for their losses.
First, the plaintiffs in a wrongful death case must prove that the death of their loved one caused by the recklessness, carelessness or negligent actions of the defendant. Second, the plaintiff must show with appropriate evidence that the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit owed a duty of care to the deceased victim. For example, a motorist maintains a duty to drive safely and follow the rules of the road.
So, when a driver operates a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, he or she breaches that duty of care and can be held accountable. Similarly, doctors and medical health providers have the duty to provide the standard care for their patients. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to establish what duty existed and how the defendant breached that duty through his or her negligent or wrongful actions.
In addition to proving how the defendant breached his or her duty of care toward the decedent, the plaintiff must also show how the defendant's negligence or wrongdoing caused their loved one's death. Also, the death of the victim must have caused the plaintiff to suffer quantifiable damages such as hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost income, etc. Other damages such as loss of love and companionship and pain and suffering could be included as non-economic damages or damages that cannot be quantified.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Proving a wrongful death case can be a daunting challenge for plaintiffs, particularly at a time when they are vulnerable, grieving the loss of a loved one. Proving these cases requires strong evidence and expert witness testimony presented by an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who has successfully represented plaintiffs in similar cases. You need someone who can provide quality, compassionate legal representation, help you secure maximum compensation for your losses and hold the at-fault parties accountable.