Damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit consist of many types of financial costs and losses, emotional burdens and psychological impacts. These damages include past, present and future losses.
In California, punitive (punishment) damages are not recoverable in wrongful death cases. However, they are recoverable in “survival actions,” which entitle the estate of the deceased (decedent) to recover economic losses incurred as a result of the incident that eventually caused the death. The key is being able to prove that the decedent survived the initial accident, even for a very short period of time, before he or she died of injuries.
- Survival actions may be brought together with a wrongful death action for the benefit of the decedent’s estate. The heirs of the estate would receive distributions of any compensation award.
- Punitive damages may be awarded to the estate in a survival action to punish the negligent party or wrongdoer whose actions caused the death. The financial payout is meant to deter others from malicious or serious wrongful acts in the future.
Damages Recoverable In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In California
Establishing the value of damages in a wrongful death case and doing it accurately are critical. This is mainly done by determining the financial value of damages, including:
- Medical costs and funeral expenses
- Loss of future monetary contributions and personal support, nurturing, advice, guidance, training, services and inheritance from the decedent
- Loss of love, companionship, comfort, society, affection, solace or moral support
Many factors are considered in establishing and litigating the compensation awarded in a wrongful death case. Expert witnesses (e.g., economists, psychologists, medical doctors, etc.) may be necessary to establish the full, fair and true value of the case. Factors such as life expectancy, age, earning potential, education, health, intelligence, character, parental responsibilities, spending and saving patterns, and the circumstances of survivors/beneficiaries may all be necessary to consider.
Even the cases of homemakers (stay-at-home moms or dads) and unemployed individuals at the time of death may be valuable as we calculate the loss of his or her contributions to the household and the family; loss of love; loss of companionship; loss of comfort; loss of society; loss of affection; loss of solace and loss of moral support.
A consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death damages lawyers in Oakland, San Francisco or Los Angeles is important to understanding your options and rights.
Monetary compensation may help you cope with loss, cover expenses and plan for a more secure future. Establishing the fair value of your case can only be done through honest, dedicated counsel and representation.
Get In Touch With A Berkeley-Area Financial Damages Lawyer
Contact our offices at (510) 433-1000 to schedule a free initial consultation. We pursue all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay no attorney fees unless we obtain compensation in your case.