On Wednesday, June 14, a gunman opened fire in a United Parcel Service facility in San Francisco, killing three people and wounding two others before he killed himself. The shooter has been described as a UPS driver and was dressed in a company uniform at the time. Unfortunately, violence is committed by unhappy workers all too often. This violence leads to unnecessary injuries and fatalities that other workers and their families are left to deal with. In situations like these, the wounded employees and their families may have the right to pursue workers’ compensation claims with their employers and personal injury or wrongful death suits against the deceased gunman’s estate.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Offender’s Estate
When an accident or violent act leads to the death of the at-fault party, the victims of the incident may worry that they can no longer recover the compensation they deserve. For instance, the individuals wounded in the San Francisco UPS shooting may worry about gaining compensation for their physical, emotional, and financial injuries. The families of those who were killed in such an incident may now wonder whether they can pursue a wrongful death claim and gain compensation for their injuries. The answer is yes, it is possible. California allows individuals injured by carelessness, recklessness, and intentional misconduct to pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s estate.
There are two options to attempt to gain compensation from an estate through a personal injury or wrongful death claim. The first is intended for when an injured individual or a family of the deceased is only concerned with gaining compensation through insurance proceeds. In this situation, a case may be filed against the estate of the deceased and the insurer of the deceased will be serviced the legal paperwork instead of the representative of the estate. This is helpful when the at-fault party was also killed by his or her own negligence, such as when a driver causes a serious car crash that also leads to his or her death. In this situation, other victims of the crash want to be gain compensation based on the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. However, it is not a perfect option. Even if the victim wins, the potential compensation is limited to the insurance policy limit. Also, the judgment is not against the state, only the insurer.
However, there is a second option when insurance proceeds are not available. An injured individual can file suit against the at-fault party’s estate and then also file a timely creditor’s claim against the estate to preserve the right to compensation. The victim will have to go through the personal injury claim as normal and then if awarded compensation by the judge or jury, seek to obtain this award from the estate. The personal representative of the estate must be served and may have control over defending against the allegations in court.
During both personal injury and wrongful death claims against an at-fault party’s estate, victims and their families can seek all of the damages they would have had claim to against the at-fault party had he or she lived. However, in neither situation can an individual or their family seek punitive damages.
Contact our Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
If you suffered an injury or lost a loved one because of workplace violence, contact the experienced attorneys of Brod Law Firm at (800) 427-7020.
(image courtesy of Samuel Zeller)