Even though many people in California tend to believe that it is not possible to pursue wrongful death benefits after a suicide, it actually is. Moreover, it may be possible to sue social media trolls and bullies for causing your loved one to commit suicide.
California courts take suicide-based wrongful death cases seriously, as cases of people, especially teenagers, committing suicide due to severe emotional distress caused by cyberbullying and hateful messages on social media have been on the rise in recent years.
Is it possible to sue for suicide caused by cyberbullying in California?
Most Americans choose to expose their children and teenagers to the Internet and social media at a young age, which can result in a tragic outcome. We are all aware of the many dangers lurking on the Internet, one of which is cyberbullying on top of discrimination and harassment that prevail on the Internet, and especially on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Sometimes, cyberbullying and harassment becomes so unbearable that people choose to take their own life, while minors and teenagers are the most vulnerable group of people in that regard. Contrary to the popular belief, Riverside and California courts make it possible for surviving family members of the deceased who committed suicide due to severe emotional distress caused by cyberbullying to hold cyberbullies liable for the wrongful death.
This is possible largely thanks to a specific section in California’s wrongful death legislation stating that “outrageous and extreme conduct” of another individual(s) makes him/her/them liable for causing suicide if the deceased suffered severe emotional distress as a result of that conduct.
But what do California laws consider “outrageous and extreme conduct” exactly? This is the question we asked our Riverside wrongful death attorney from the JML Law.
What is ‘outrageous and extreme conduct’ according to California’s wrongful death laws?
In order for your loved one’s suicide caused by cyberbullying to qualify for “outrageous and extreme conduct,” you must prove that the conduct of the cyberbullies and/or trolls was “beyond all possible bounds of decency such that the conduct cannot be tolerated in a civilized society.”
The definition makes it relatively easy to sue the cyberbullies for causing suicide of another individual, especially when the surviving family members of that individual hire a Riverside wrongful death lawyer who can help identify the defendants, establish liability, and find evidence proving “outrageous and extreme conduct” in the cyberbullies’ actions.
Building a strong legal case is of great importance when it comes to handling suicide-based wrongful death cases. It is also critical to note that the definition of “outrageous and extreme conduct” (see above) puts cyberbullying and bullying on the same footing with revenge porn, assaults, battery, discrimination, harassment, and sexual assaults.
And this is something that you may want to keep in mind when filing a wrongful death lawsuit against cyberbullies. But do not be mistaken: suing cyberbullies and trolls is not super easy even if you are legally represented by a Riverside wrongful death attorney.
What to expect from your suicide-based wrongful death case?
Our lawyers from the JML Law, one of the leading law firms in California that handle wrongful death cases, have outlined some of the most common challenges you may encounter when suing someone for causing the suicide of your loved one:
- Proving that “severe emotional distress” was suffered as a result of cyberbullying itself can be quite tricky
- Given that cyberbullying-related wrongful death cases are relatively new, not all courts in Riverside and all across California are aware of the actual damage cyberbullying can inflict on individuals using the Internet
- If a wrongful death case involves minors, it may be difficult to hold them accountable, hold their parents responsible for their children’s actions, or prove in court that those young cyberbullies are dangerous
- Finding evidence of cyberbullying – or presenting it in court as solid evidence, for that matter – is no easy task
- Establishing a direct connection between cyberbullying and someone’s suicide may also be tricky without a lawyer.
In order to overcome the above challenges and ensure that your wrongful death lawsuit is successful in California courts, seek legal advice of our best wrongful death attorneys in the state. Contact the JML Law to get a free consultation about your particular case. Call our offices at 818-610-8800 or send us an email.