Attorney and family discussing wrongful death claim.

Benefits of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

  • May 4 2020

A wrongful death lawsuit arises when a family member dies because of the negligence or wrongful acts of another party. The lawsuit is a civil action that is separate and apart from any criminal charges filed against the party responsible for another person’s death. The civil lawsuit is not dependent upon a criminal case and may exist even though criminal charges are not filed or the party is acquitted of any criminal charges.

Situations and incidents that can result in a wrongful death claim include, but are not limited to, motor vehicle accidents, falls, medical malpractice, defective product claims, and animal attacks. A California wrongful death attorney can review your loved one’s death to determine if you and your family members may have a claim against one or more parties under California’s wrongful death laws.

Benefits of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

Filing a lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back. However, holding the party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for wrongful acts and negligence can provide a measure of comfort and closure for you and your family. 

Seeking justice for a family member who can no longer speak for themselves can also prevent another family from going through a similar situation. For example, filing a wrongful death lawsuit related to a defective product could result in a dangerous product being removed from the market. 

A wrongful death lawsuit can also provide compensation for family members who depended on a loved one for financial support. The financial hardship caused by the loss of a family member can be significant and ongoing. The lawsuit can result in compensation for the loss of wages and benefits that the family would have received had the person not died. 

Compensation that might be awarded by a court in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Loss of income and future earnings of the deceased family member 
  • Loss of benefits the deceased person would have earned throughout a lifetime
  • Reasonable funeral expenses and costs
  • Loss of household services and contributions to the family by the deceased family member
  • Loss of love, affection, moral support, encouragement, guidance, and other intangible forms of support that would have been provided by the deceased person

Several factors determine the amount of lost future income, such as the person’s age, health, education, career, and skills. Experts are often used to calculate the estimated loss of income based on relevant factors. Funeral costs equal the actual amounts paid to the funeral home and other companies for the funeral, provided the amounts are reasonable. 

It can be difficult to place a value on the contributions that a family member would have provided had he or she not died. There is not a formula for calculating this amount. An experienced attorney understands how to maximize the possible damages a family can receive for intangible losses.

Survival Actions in California

Some damages are only paid through a survival action. A survival action is a separate lawsuit from a wrongful death lawsuit. The action is filed when a person survived for a period after the initial injury. A survival action compensates the person’s estate for damages the person incurred between the date of injury and date of death.

Damages that may be included in a survival action include:

  • Medical expenses from the date of injury through the date of death
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and mental anguish and suffering
  • Punitive damages, if the case involves grossly negligent or willful, wanton behaviors that are particularly egregious 

Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If you have questions about a wrongful death claim, contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys today. We are here to help you and your family seek justice for the loss of your loved one.

Posted in: Wrongful Death


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