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Wrongful Death Involving the Police: What You Should Know

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The family of Willie McCoy, a rapper from northern California, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police officers who fatally shot the victim in early February. Reports show that the officers involved opened fire after seeing McCoy allegedly reaching for a gun on his lap. The family cried justice for their loved one, saying that the rapper did not get a chance to put his hands up.

Losing someone from a wrongful death is devastating for family members. Dealing with the loss is unimaginable, and pursuing a lawsuit adds to the anxiety. But it’s essential to give justice to the sudden passing of your loved one. You can reduce the stress of the process by working with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles.

Understanding the Process of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death claims apply to incidents where a person has caused another individual’s death either through intentional harm or negligence. The family or a representative of the victim can file this type of claim against the party that is legally liable for the wrongful death.

Additionally, wrongful death lawsuits apply to the following:

  • Victims who were intentionally killed
  • Victims of medical malpractice
  • Victims of car accidents

In filing a claim, you must meet the burden of proof. This is essential to hold the other party liable for the wrongful death that has occurred.

Once the defendant has been proven guilty, you’re entitled to damages, including:

  • Medical costs
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of the victim’s expected income

When the wrongful death involves police officers, however, the process can be more complicated for the courts. Certain factors have to be considered, especially with the nature of the police’s duty.

Can You Sue the Police for a Wrongful Death?

It’s the police officers’ sworn duty to protect and serve the communities where they patrol. But in some cases, police work can be chaotic, resulting in violations of civilian rights or negligent acts. These instances can result in injuries and deaths.

If proven, individuals who lost a loved one due to an officer’s negligence can file a civil lawsuit for pain and suffering, lost companionship, and other damages. It will be challenging for the courts, however, to determine liabilities because officers are often in dangerous situations and must make split-second decisions regarding the use of deadly force.

You also need to file this type of lawsuit against the city or the jurisdiction of the involved police department. Public employees, like police officers, may receive qualified immunity in injury claims as long as there is no willful violation of the established law. An officer can have immunity from a wrongful death lawsuit if, for instance, a victim is killed after the officer properly uses techniques approved by the department.

Decisions of the court rely on available facts and evidence. Building a case is often wrought with complication when officers of the law are involved.  Even so, you have a right to have your day in court.

Work with a Wrongful Death Attorney

Although no amount of compensation can make up for a painful loss, hiring a wrongful death attorney can mitigate the impact of a tragedy by helping you receive the settlement you deserve.

Haffner Law can help you throughout the entire process, and gain some measure of justice. We will handle crucial tasks, such as securing medical documents, obtaining police reports, and tracking evidence. We’re here to provide the best legal representation possible in your most difficult time.

For inquiries, contact us today.

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