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Police Fault Tennis Star in Fatal Crash; Wrongful Death Suit May be Next

Famous tennis star Venus Williams was allegedly declared to be at fault in a Florida car wreck that took the life of an elderly man. Now the family is bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against Ms. Williams and seeking compensation for their losses. Had this wreck occurred in California, the ending of the story (thus far) would be the same: If a person is believed to cause the death of another person through careless or reckless conduct, then certain close family members or relations of the decedent can bring a wrongful death suit against the at-fault party and seek compensation.

Assessing Ability to Pay in Wrongful Death Lawsuits 

Wrongful death lawsuits are not simply a way for surviving family members to “get even” with the person responsible for killing their loved ones. In fact, the primary purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to provide the decedent’s surviving family members with the financial compensation necessary to address the sudden expenses related to the decedent’s death, including funeral expenses, final medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earnings, and the pain and suffering experienced by the surviving family members.

When considering whether a wrongful death lawsuit should be filed (and, once filed, whether the case should be taken to trial or settled out of court), one cannot ignore considering the likelihood that the defendant will be able to pay any judgment entered against him or her. For instance, it would make little sense for the surviving family members of a decedent to spend months pursuing a recovery that the defendant would not ultimately be able to pay.

While it is true that orders can be entered against the defendant following a successful wrongful death lawsuit that would intercept certain payments like tax refunds and/or lottery winnings and apply them to the wrongful death judgment, the likelihood of this occurring is usually low.

How do You Assess a Defendant’s Ability to Pay? 

In most cases, your attorney can discover whether the at-fault party in your wrongful death case has one or more insurance policies and/or other assets that can be used to satisfy any judgment. Finding this information out early in the life of your wrongful death lawsuit can help you appreciate the amount of compensation the defendant might be able to pay and then use this information to determine whether your wrongful death case should settle or proceed to trial.

Contact Heiting & Irwin for Professional and Dedicated Assistance 

The sudden death of a loved one due to another’s carelessness can be an especially troubling time for you and your family. Count on our experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys at Heiting & Irwin to help you protect and advance your legal interests. Our thorough legal team helps you make informed decisions about how best to obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible for your family’s losses. Call our firm at (951) 682-6440, or contact our firm online for help.

Richard Irwin

Mr. Irwin is a recognized specialist in Workers’ Compensation law. He has been certified as a specialist by the State Bar of California since 1995. He limits his practice to handling only workers’ compensation cases. View Attorney Richard Irwin's Attorney Bio Here.

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