Who Can Bring Forth a Wrongful Death Case After a Shooting at a Restaurant?
Personal Injury Lawyer
The person who pulls the trigger is not necessarily the only person who can be held responsible for a shooting death. When the shooting takes place inside a restaurant, the restaurant owner might be liable for failing to provide adequate security. If the shooting occurs in a restaurant parking lot, the property owner might also be responsible if inadequate lighting or other unsafe conditions contributed to the shooting.
State law determines whether a restaurant owner can be held responsible for a shooting that occurs on the premises. Most states recognize that restaurants have a duty to ensure the safety of patrons. Particularly when the restaurant serves liquor and is located in an area where acts of violence have occurred in the past, a reasonable owner should recognize the need to provide security to minimize the risk of a shooting on the restaurant’s premises.
The wrongful death law of each state determines how juries should measure compensation for the restaurant’s negligence. A few states cap the amount of compensation that family members can receive. How compensation should be distributed among family members who are eligible to receive it is also a matter of state law.
Since states have differing approaches to wrongful death cases, families should ask a negligence and shooting lawyer to advise them about their opportunity to bring a claim after a restaurant shooting. Which family members can participate in bringing the claim is one of the first questions the lawyer will answer.
Family Members Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim After a Shooting at a Restaurant
No state allows a friend of the shooting victim to recover compensation for the victim’s death. Only relatives or the victim’s estate are allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Which family members can bring the claim is determined by each state’s wrongful death law. Some states require the claim to be initiated by the victim’s estate. The executor or personal representative of the estate will hire a security negligence lawyer to bring the claim. Most states, however, allow certain family members to bring the claim. In those states, the victim’s spouse at the time of the victim’s death is always authorized to bring a wrongful death claim.
In some states, the spouse brings the claim on his or her own behalf and on behalf of the victim’s children. In other states, minor children are permitted to join in the claim. Whether adult children can bring a wrongful death claim, and whether the children of deceased children can bring the claim, depends on the state in which the death occurred.
Some states allow siblings and parents to bring a claim. In some of those states, siblings can only bring a claim if the shooting victim had no spouse or children at the time of death. Some states only allow parents to bring a claim if the shooting victim was a minor. Other states only allow parents to bring a claim if the parents were financially dependent on the victim at the time of the victim’s death.
How Are Wrongful Death Claim Proceeds Distributed After a Shooting at a Restaurant?
In some states, all relatives who have a right to share in the wrongful death proceeds must join the lawsuit. In other states, a relative designated by law brings the claim on behalf of all the relatives who are entitled to a share of the compensation. In either case, the law of the state determines how the proceeds are divided. Some states follow a formula while others give discretion to the judge or jury to divide the proceeds. It is usually best if relatives can come to an agreement about how the compensation should be divided.
When the estate makes the claim, compensation is divided according to the terms of the shooting victim’s will. If the victim had no will, compensation will be divided along with the rest of the victim’s estate, following state laws that determine how property is distributed when someone dies without a will.