Deaths resulting from various types of ‘accidents’ are among the leading causes of fatalities in the United States. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, a fatal injury occurs every five minutes. The most frequent causes of accidental deaths are motor vehicle accidents, falls, poisonings, choking, fires and smoke. If your loved one was killed as a result of the negligence of another, whether in a car accident, by a defective product, or by another type of personal injury, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the wrongdoer and recover financial damages.
What is the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit?
In California, a wrongful death action is intended to compensate the family or loved ones of the deceased for their own losses, rather than the losses incurred by the deceased. While you are not entitled to certain types of damages normally recoverable in a personal injury claim, such as the victim’s medical expenses, lost income and property damage, these claims do belong to the wrongful death victim’s estate and may be recoverable by the personal representative of the victim in a “survival action,” the details of which you can discuss with your experienced wrongful death attorney.
Financial compensation for wrongful death survivors
Wrongful death laws in California acknowledge that the victim’s loved ones can suffer their own economic and non-economic losses due to the wrongful death of someone close to them. For a list of may be able to bring a wrongful death claim, click here.
For example, if you are an heir of the wrongful death victim, you can be compensated for:
- the financial support that the deceased would have contributed to you during either your life expectancy or that of the victim, whichever is shorter;
- the loss of gifts or benefits that you would have expected to receive from the victim;
- funeral and burial expenses; and
- the reasonable value of the household services that the wrongful death victim would have provided to you, the heir.
You may also be able to recover the monetary value of certain types of non-economic losses due to your loved one’s wrongful death. These include:
- the loss of the victim’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, and society;
- the loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations, if applicable; and
- the loss of the training and guidance of the victim, if applicable.
However, the judge or jury is not allowed to considered your grief, sorrow or mental anguish, the poverty or wealth, or the wrongful death victim’s pain and suffering. As your wrongful death lawyer can explain, there is an exception in cases where a parent or sibling witnesses the injury or death of the victim. In such instances these individuals may claim damages for infliction of emotional distress.
For more information on the financial compensation available in a wrongful death claim and how to bring a wrongful death claim in California, reach out to the skilled wrongful death lawyers at Ghozland Law Firm today.