wrongful death

Wrongful Death Settlements in California

  • Jan 5 2021

The Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 governs wrongful death lawsuits in California. Under this law, a decedent’s family may sue for damages if the decedent’s death resulted from another party’s willful or negligent actions. 

If someone else has been proven at-fault for the death of your loved one, you may wish to consult a California personal injury attorney about filing a wrongful death action.  

While the court has broad discretion regarding wrongful death settlements in California, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you regarding the viability of your claim and damages you might expect to receive. 

Who Can Sue for Damages in a California Wrongful Death Claim?

When you lose someone you care about, it’s natural to want answers and accountability on their behalf. Outside of criminal charges, California law offers a path to justice through wrongful death actions.  But, only certain people have legal standing to file wrongful death lawsuits:

  • The decedent’s spouse or domestic partner
  • The decedent’s biological or adopted children
  • The decedent’s financial dependents, including their putative spouse, 

It’s important to note there are circumstances where others entitled to inherit from the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit, and when more than one survivor can bring a wrongful death claim.

If you are unsure of your standing in a California wrongful death action, contact a qualified personal injury lawyer for clarification. 

Types of Damages Awarded in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California

Claimants in wrongful death lawsuits may seek compensation for only reasonable and just losses incurred as a result of their loved one’s death. Often categorized as economic and non-economic damages. These damages may include:

  • Burial and funeral expenses 
  • Lost lifetime income 
  • Lost service contributions to the family
  • Loss of companionship and support

Your wrongful death attorney will advise you regarding what damages you can seek in your wrongful death claim. 

How Do California Courts Determine Award Amounts in Wrongful Death Actions?

Determining the amount to be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is complicated and often requires the services of multiple experts:

  • Accountants
  • Economists
  • Vocational experts
  • Lifecare experts
  • Expert psychologists

Not only will these experts calculate tangible loss such as funeral expenses and lost income,  but they will also assign value to intangible losses, such as lost companionship, love, and affection. 

Not all claimants will share equally in the settlement award. The farther removed a person is from financial and relational dependence on the decedent, the less likely they are to receive equal compensation to those fully supported by the decedent at the time of the decedent’s death.  

Why Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney?

Losing a loved one is never easy, and the grief and confusion resulting from their death can feel particularly burdensome when someone else is at fault.  

If you are suffering the loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence, you may find a sense of justice and closure through a wrongful death action. While a wrongful death settlement won’t bring back the person you lost, it can provide much-needed compensation to family members struggling to adjust in the aftermath of tragedy. 

Contact our office today to learn if you have legal standing for a wrongful death action in California. An experienced California personal injury attorney will review your case, explain your legal rights, and determine whether you’re entitled to compensation for your loss. Contact us today.

Posted in: Wrongful Death


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