Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
At Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, we know that losing a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences that anyone can endure.
We also know that the loss of a loved one results in unexpected emotional and financial costs that should be compensated by the party responsible for the wrongful death.
When you file a wrongful death claim in California and win your lawsuit, wrongful death damages California are designed to compensate you for your losses.
Damages in a wrongful death claim can be complex, and we want to provide you with more information about general damages in wrongful death cases in California.
If you need assistance filing a claim and seeking damages in a wrongful death case, an experienced wrongful death attorney in California can begin working on your case.
Compensatory Damages in a California Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death lawsuit is defined under California law (California Code of Civ. Proc. §§ 377.10-377.62) as “a cause of action for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”
In wrongful death cases, there are two types of general damages for which a plaintiff may be eligible. Both types of damages are forms of “compensatory damages” which are aimed at compensating a plaintiff for losses and, inasmuch as possible, making the plaintiff whole again. Those two types of compensatory damages include:
- Economic damages, or compensation for objective financial losses such as burial costs or the decedent’s future lost wages; and
- Non-economic damages, or compensation for subjective non-financial losses like the loss of the decedent’s love and companionship.
Recovery for the Wrongful Death of an Adult
If you search for “CACI wrongful death” or “CACI general damages,” you will find information about California Civil Jury Instructions in wrongful death cases. This language is intended for juries in civil cases, such as wrongful death lawsuits, to determine whether the plaintiff should win the case and, if so, how much the plaintiff should be compensated.
As we mentioned above, economic damages are much easier to determine since they are objective in nature, while non-economic damages are more subjective and thus more difficult to determine. Indeed, non-economic damages can vary greatly depending upon the specific facts of the case and the makeup of the jury.
In the jury instructions for wrongful death of an adult, the jury is informed that, if it decides the plaintiff has proved his or her claim against the defendant for the wrongful death of the deceased, then the jury must decide how much money will reasonably compensate the plaintiff for the death of the decedent.
In a wrongful death case for the death of an adult, the jury must first decide economic damages—both present and future economic damages. Those economic damages can include:
- Financial support, if any, that the decedent would have contributed to the family;
- Loss of gifts or benefits that the plaintiff would have expected to receive from the decedent;
- Funeral and burial expenses; and
- Reasonable value of household services that the decedent would have provided.
In addition to economic damages, the wrongful death of an adult can result in non-economic damages, which can include:
- Loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support;
- Loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations; and
- Loss of the decedent’s training and guidance.
To determine non-economic damages, the jury is not permitted to consider the plaintiff’s grief, sorrow, mental anguish, pain and suffering, or poverty or wealth at the time of the death.
Recovery for the Wrongful Death of a Minor Child in California
Jury instructions for a wrongful death lawsuit concerning the death of a minor child are similar to but distinct from those jury instructions for the wrongful death of an adult.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Clients in California
Making the decision to file a wrongful death lawsuit can be difficult when you are grieving for a loved one, yet it is important to seek the financial compensation that you deserve.
You should not have to pay the financial costs associated with your loved one’s medical bills and burial expenses, and the negligent party who caused your loved one’s death should have to pay for your losses in companionship, love, and comfort.
An experienced California wrongful death attorney at our firm can begin working with you on your case today. Contact Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law for more information about the personal injury and wrongful death services we provide.