What Damages Can I Claim for a Wrongful Death in California?

5 Wrongful Death Damages California 

wrongful death damages in California

A wrongful death is when a person or entity causes the death of another person from a negligent or intentional act. The surviving family members or the estate of the deceased can sue for compensation for their sudden loss. 

If you lost a loved one in a tragic accident due to negligence, you may be wondering what damages you can pursue in a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death damages vary state to state, and the amount you will be able to recover depends on several factors. Learn more about non-economic and economic damages in California and if you need the help of a wrongful death lawyer


Funeral and Burial Expenses

You can claim funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death case. This includes the reasonable expenses for the service, casket, cremation fee, transportation, flowers, and printed materials. 

According to a recent study conducted by the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral in California is $7,225


Medical Expenses

California wrongful death case

You can receive compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses in a wrongful death action. This includes the costs of emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, medication, and any other treatment that was necessary to save their life or alleviate their pain and suffering. 

These costs can be substantial, especially if your loved one suffered a serious or prolonged injury for months or even years. You can recover these expenses from the at-fault party’s insurance company.


Loss of Income and Earning Capacity 

If your loved one was working or had the potential to work at the time of their death, you can also claim the loss of financial support and earning capacity that they would have provided to you and your family. These economic damages include the wages, tips, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and pensions that your loved one earned or would have earned in the future. It also includes the value of any lost business opportunities, promotions, or career advancements that your loved one could have achieved.

To calculate the loss of income and earning capacity, an attorney will consider several factors, such as the age, health, education, skills, occupation, and the average life expectancy of your loved one. 


Loss of Gifts and Household Services

Economic damages win a wrongful death suit

In addition to the loss of income and earning capacity, you can also claim the loss of gifts and household services that your loved one would have given or performed for you and your family. These economic damages include the value of any money, goods, or services that your loved one regularly or occasionally provided to you. 

It also includes the reasonable value of any household services, maintenance, repairs, or childcare that your loved one performed or contributed to, such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, or tutoring.


Loss of Companionship or Consortium 

Perhaps the most intangible and subjective type of damage in a wrongful death claim is the loss of companionship that your loved one provided to you and your family. 

This includes the loss of the love, affection, care, assistance, protection, society, moral support, and guidance that your loved one gave or would have given to you. It also includes the loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations, if you were married.


Wrongful Death Lawsuit FAQ

California wrongful death claim faq

Can I Claim Pain and Suffering in a Wrongful Death Claim?

No, California law does not allow you to claim pain and suffering in a wrongful death claim. However, if you plan on filing a survival action and a wrongful death claim, you may be able to recover pain and suffering damages. 

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are seldom awarded. They are meant to punish the at-fault party for their egregious or malicious conduct and to deter others from similar behavior. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for your losses, but rather to serve as a form of justice.

A felony homicide must cause the death for punitive damages to be awarded in California. The only way to recover these damages in a California wrongful death lawsuit is through a survival action. 

What Is a Survival Action? 

Survival actions are brought by the estate of the deceased to recover the damages that the deceased person could have recovered if they had survived the accident, such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. A survival action is separate from a wrongful death lawsuit, but can be filed at the same time.

A survival action can only be filed if the deceased survived for some time after the accident and before their death. If the deceased died instantly or at the scene of the accident, a survival action cannot be filed. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims?

There is a time limit when filing wrongful death claims in California. Under California law, the surviving spouses or family members have two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death action. 


Speak to an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer 

California wrongful death action California civil jury instructions

If you have lost a loved one in a tragic accident due to negligence, you may be able to file a California wrongful death lawsuit. To increase obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve, speak to a qualified wrongful death attorney. 

Wrongful death lawyers can evaluate your case, gather and analyze the evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company. Arrowhead Accident Attorneys is a top personal injury law firm in San Bernardino with experience winning wrongful death cases. Call us to schedule a private, free consultation at (909) 453-2040. 

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