A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed over the drowning of “Glee” actress Naya Rivera, who died this summer while boating with her 4-year-old son on a lake in Ventura County. According to an Associated Press news report, the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Rivera’s son and his father (Rivera’s ex-husband), blames Ventura County and managers of Lake Piru for Rivera’s death on July 8.
Details of the Lawsuit
Rivera had rented a pontoon boat on the lake. Her son was found sleeping and alone on the drifting boat later that afternoon. Rivera’s body was found floating in a 30-foot-deep area of the lake five days later. Officials said her body was most likely trapped in thick vegetation underwater for several days before floating to the top. Her death was listed as an accident.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges negligence saying that the pontoon boat lacked a safety accessible ladder, radio, rope, anchor and other equipment to keep swimmers from being separated from the boat. It also did not have a life preserver or other flotation devices, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also said there were no signs in the area warning of the lake’s strong currents, low visibility and high winds even though at least 26 people have drowned there since the lake opened in 1959.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Under California law, survivors of deceased victims have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in cases where the death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. A wrongful death lawsuit is different from a criminal murder or manslaughter case. It is adjudicated in civil courts and the defendant is found liable for damages based on a preponderance of the evidence. A wrongful death claim can be filed by survivors such as a spouse or partner, children (minor or grown), other relatives, and anyone who was financially dependent on the decedent.
Wrongful death lawsuits typically seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, funeral, and burial costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love, care and companionship. The statute of limitations or deadline to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California is typically two years from the date of the incident or death. However, if the defendant is a governmental agency, plaintiffs must file a notice of claim within 180 days. An experienced California wrongful death attorney can help families better understand the process and help them secure maximum compensation for their losses.