Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits that are brought by the family of a person who died as a result of the negligent or intentional act of another person or entity. Like every other state, California’s wrongful death laws are set by statute.
Recoverable Damages in Wrongful Death Actions
In California, the family members of the decedent are entitled to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages that are calculated over the decedent’s life expectancy. It’s up to a jury to determine what the life expectancy of a decedent was.
If the wrongful death case doesn’t settle and goes to trial, the jury will begin deliberating the conclusion of the case. If the jury finds in favor of the decedent’s family, an award of economic damages comes first. According to our wrongful death lawyers Los Angeles, economic damages consist of the following:
Any financial support that the decedent might or would have contributed to the family during his or her life expectancy.
- The loss of gifts or benefits that the family would have expected to receive.
- The decedent’s funeral and burial expenses.
- The reasonable value of the household services that the decedent would have provided.
- Non-Economic Damages
These types of damages in California wrongful death actions consist of the following losses:
- Society, companionship, comfort and assistance
- Affection and protection
- Moral support
- Training and guidance
All economic and non-economic damages must be reduced to their present day value. Punitive damages cannot be awarded. An exception to this rule exists for felony homicide convictions.
A second count to a wrongful death lawsuit is usually brought pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.30 in the form of what is known as a survival action. Any damages awarded in a survival action compensate the decedent’s estate. These are ordinarily seen when the decedent survived the injuries that ultimately caused his or her death. Survival action damages might include medical bills, lost earnings and damage to personal property between the time of the wrongful act and the decedent’s death. If the decedent’s death was instantaneous, no survival action can be brought.
Any wrongful death settlements won’t itemize economic, non-economic and survival action damages. Settlements are ordinarily paid in a lump sum settlement. Losses can be enormous after the untimely death of a loved one. Contact a personal injury lawyer Los Angeles from our office to arrange for a free consultation on any wrongful death. We can help you understand all of your legal options and get you through this difficult time.