Q: Can I file a wrongful death suit in VA against someone who lives in CA where death occurred?
My brother committed suicide in California where he resided. His "fiancé" knew he was suicidal as he had attempted before and he told her he was going to kill himself for the 17 hours prior to his death. She had a duty of care to him, his suicide was foreseeable and she was listed on his discharge papers after his first suicide attempt. In California, a voluntary suicide does not supersede a duty of care in a foreseeable suicide. She was beneficiary to his $500,000 life insurance policy. In the 17 hours of knowing he was going to commit suicide, she did not take any measure to prevent it, as was listed on his discharge papers from the hospital. She did not call 911, any family members, the hospital he was previously released from, and did not drive the short distance to his home. In the text messages they exchanged just before his suicide, she asked him how to do the paperwork for the life insurance, and told him not to call me, his brother. I live in Virginia.
A: You have a brutal situation, and I apologize for having to treat this in a cut and dried manner. First, it may possibly be a police matter. If you know the insurer you would want to advise them that there is a question as to the beneficiary's right to claim.
If there is a will and other property it needs to be probated, out there.
Any wrongful death or similar claim would have to be filed in California--Virginia has no jurisdiction over her as she lives in California, the matter happened in California. For those reasons even if Virginia had jurisdiction the matter would be transfered to California so you need California Counsel. You need to contact a member of www.CAOC.org that practices in the county where this hapened. They give free consultations. If you get a negative, get two or three other opinions.
I say this because the law isn't totally clear, and I can see an attorney or two turning it down as speculative at best (and here we are again not talking about moral responsibility but legal responsibility).
I hope your family can find peace. You may want to consult a therapist who does EMDR therapy as it is relatively
'easy", does not require extended visits, and has been very useful to many families who have had a family member die.
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