In California, several parties can potentially be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on the circumstances of the case. Here are some common examples:
- Individuals or entities responsible for the death: The person or entity whose negligent, intentional, or wrongful act caused the death may be held liable. This could include individuals, such as drivers in a car accident, property owners, product manufacturers, or medical professionals.
- Employers: If the death occurred in the course of employment and was caused by the negligence or intentional act of an employee, the employer may be held liable under certain circumstances.
- Government entities: If the death was caused by the negligence or wrongful act of a government employee or occurred due to a dangerous condition on public property, a government entity may be held responsible. However, special rules and limitations apply when suing governmental entities.
- Healthcare facilities: In cases involving medical malpractice or negligence by doctors, nurses, hospitals, or other healthcare providers, they may be held liable for a wrongful death.
- Product manufacturers: If a defective or dangerous product caused the death, the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the product may be held responsible under product liability laws.
Insurance companies typically play a significant role in wrongful death lawsuits. They are often involved because the parties being sued, such as individuals, businesses, or professionals, usually have liability insurance coverage. The insurance companies may provide legal representation for the insured party and may also be responsible for paying any damages awarded in the lawsuit, up to the policy limits.
In wrongful death cases, insurance companies may negotiate settlements with the plaintiffs or defend their insured parties in court. They may conduct investigations, assess the liability, and make settlement offers to the plaintiffs. If a lawsuit proceeds to trial, the insurance company may hire attorneys to represent the insured and cover the costs of the defense.