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What Wrongful Death Damages are recoverable in California?

This content about wrongful death damages was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

Each state in the U.S. has its own set of guidelines that determine how wrongful death cases should be filed,  handled and processed by all the parties involved, as well  and which wrongful death damages should be awarded.

When a loved one dies as a result of the negligence of a third party, his or her close relatives could be entitled to recover “damages” through a wrongful death lawsuit in California.

What is wrongful death?

The Merriam-webster legal dictionary defines it simply by stating that it’s “a death caused by the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, neglect, omission, or default of another.”

Gabriel Taylor, for Oxford Legal, goes into more detail, explaining that “a wrongful death claim is in reference to a person that may be held liable for the death of another. This is something that can lead to civil action, typically filed by those that were relatives of the deceased, and is done because a person that has died cannot file this type of suit.”

Recoverable Wrongful Death Damages in California

“Damages” are compensation (usually monetary) for the surviving family of the deceased, intended to make up for the support, both economic and non-economic, they could have expected to receive from the deceased if he or she had lived.

According to the California law, the period designated for recovering damages is the shorter of the life expectancy of the deceased person at the time of the wrongful act or the plaintiff’s life expectancy at the time of the illegal act. The jury may take into account relevant factors like the person’s health and official life expectancy statistics to make decisions about the life expectancy of the individuals involved.

The compensatory damages for this type of claim can be for both economic and non-economic losses. Here’s a brief explanation of what goes into each one:

Economic damages

In California, these may include (but are not limited to) financial support, medical, funeral and burial expenses of the deceased, value of household services the deceased could have provided during his or her lifetime, the loss of any benefits and gifts the relatives could have expected to receive from the deceased.

Non-economic damages

The loss of the deceased’s love, protection, society and companionship, affection, moral support, training, and guidance are just some of the recognized non-economic damages of wrongful death cases by the law of California.

There isn’t a set standard for deciding the amount of non-economic damages in a California wrongful death case. It’s up to the jury to decide to award any amount they find reasonable based on the evidence and common sense.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.