Date: April 26, 2017
A wrongful death lawsuit is an action brought by the survivors of the deceased (usually the spouse and/or children) for the purpose of holding the wrongdoer accountable for his conduct — for the wrongful or careless act or failure to act – that resulted in death.
Examples of conduct by a police officer that may result in a wrongful death include:
Engaging in a high speed chase without probable cause;
Shooting an unarmed individual or individual who was not posing an danger to others;
Using excessive force in subduing a suspect (e.g., beating a suspect or employing a submission hold or “non-lethal” force, such as batons and Tasers).
This conduct may be a deliberate choice on the part of the officer, or may stem from poor or inadequate training, negligence (unreasonable carelessness), or ill will.
Our most recent case includes the wrongful death of thirty-four year old Megan Causey who was shot by a deputy from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Department. Although Deputy Carlos Montoya claimed he acted in self-defense, we proved otherwise and the family received a substantial financial award to care for his young son. The case was reported in published opinion from the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as Zia Trust v. Causey, 597 F.3d 1150 (10th Cir. 2010).
Available legal remedies
If you are able to prove your claim of wrongful death, you are entitled to an award of damages (monetary compensation) for your loss, including medical and funeral expenses; the income the deceased would have earned during his or her lifetime; and loss of consortium (marital companionship). In a civil rights action, you also may be entitled to “injunctive” relief – a court order directing the defendant to do, or stop doing, certain acts. In this way, a wrongful death action may be a means of effectuating wholesale changes in police department procedures, protocols and training methods. In addition to these remedies provided in the law, you may find that the legal process brings you and your family a sense of closure and a means of honoring the life of the person killed.
Contact STEVE N. Hall civil rights lawyer
When your loved one is killed by a law enforcement officer, the pain of the sudden and unexpected death is compounded by the knowledge that it could have been avoided. I know you are grieving, and a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, but I am available to provide information and answer your questions when you are ready. If you would like the counsel of an experienced attorney to schedule a free consultation.