A California jury found $10,200,000 in damages that arose out the wrongful death of a 15 year old boy. This damages verdict included $5.7 million in compensatory damages, and $4.5 million in punitive damages. The jury found that this disabled boy died when his long term care facility failed to give him his seizure medicine. What’s more, they left the child in the care of a person who was not CPR trained. Adding to the tragedy, in this California jury found that the care facility failed the boy when it delayed calling 911 after finding him non-responsive.

When an individual dies as the result of negligence, the law allows their families or survivors to sue for their wrongful death. Often, deaths like this are the result of hospitals and facilities who do not have back up plans in place or who do not follow through with the policies they have or should have in place.

Can you sue for wrongful death?

To hold individuals or companies like the care facility responsible for the wrongful death of a person, the law varies from state to state. In most cases, a plaintiff has to prove that the company or its employees acted negligently. This means that the company or its employees did not act with reasonable care—that it did not do something that a reasonable person or company would do; or that it did do something that a a reasonable person or company would not do. This is sometimes referred to as “breach.” In medical malpractice cases, lawyers will refer to this type of failure as “breach of the standard of care.” The standard of care is simply the standard that professionals like doctors must follow.

There are many ways to prove that a company failed to act reasonably or were negligent. If you believe you have been wronged by a company or individual, you should consult a lawyer and have them look at the specific facts of your case to determine whether those acts rise to the level of negligence. For example, in some circumstances, failing to follow proper policies or procedures may be negligent.

But it’s not sufficient to simply prove that the individual or company acted negligently. The plaintiff in a lawsuit must also prove that the individual caused a wrongful death.  In the California case, the jury found that the Defendant did not give the child his seizure medication. Had they given this child his medication, he would have likely lived. Moreover, the jury found that the care facility waited over an hour to call 911 after they found the child unresponsive. The California state records show that the facility was fined for this delay in getting this boy help.