Wrongful Death by Police Officer

Police officers have a duty to protect and serve communities that they work for. However, most people have a general understanding that police work can be chaotic and stressful. Unfortunately, there are times some law enforcement officers violate the rights of civilians or act in a negligent way that can cause injuries or death to others. If the actions of a police officer have led to another person’s death, then that officer could be charged in criminal court, and they could also face wrongful death lawsuits from the family members of the person who died.

How Can Police Officers Face a Wrongful Death Claim?

First, it is important to understand that filing a wrongful death claim against a police officer and the agencies that they work for can be difficult. In most circumstances, police officers are offered a certain level of qualified immunity against injury claims so long as they committed no willful violation of established law when the injury or death occurred. However, by analyzing the circumstances related to each particular case, a skilled Santa Ana wrongful death lawyer will usually be able to show when a police officer’s conduct was grossly negligent or intentional.

How Do Wrongful Death Cases Against the Police Arise?

There are various types of deadly police force that can lead to the wrongful death of another person. This can include following:

  • Wrongful shootings by the police
  • “Hog-tying”
  • Restraint-related asphyxia
  • The use of “spit hoods”
  • Suffocation
  • Chokeholds
  • “Less than lethal” force usage (to include beanbag guns, rubber bullets, batons, pepper spray, etc.)
  • Failing to call for medical assistance
  • and more

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim Against the Police?

Wrongful death lawsuits are generally brought on behalf of surviving family members of the deceased. California law specifies that various family members are allowed to bring wrongful death claims in these cases, and this person will act as the deceased’s “personal representative” for the purposes of the wrongful death claim against the law enforcement agency.

What Kind of Compensation Is Available to Family Members?

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of a police officer, there are various types of compensation that may be available. While no two wrongful death cases against police are the same, the following types of compensation are generally available to surviving family members:

  • Coverage of any pre-death medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering and mental anguish damages of the survivors
  • Compensation for any lost income and benefits the deceased would have earned during their lifetime
  • Compensation for loss of companionship, guidance, protection, nurturing, and care the deceased would have provided
  • Full value of services and goods the deceased would have provided
  • and more

These cases will generally be resolved in one of two ways. In some cases, a municipality or agency may want to reach a quick resolution for the case, particularly if the evidence against them is fairly strong. This could lead to a settlement offer being made to family members. However, if a fair settlement offer is not made, it may be necessary to take the wrongful death case to trial in order to receive the coverage you and your loved ones deserve.

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