Have you lost a family member due to another person’s negligence or reckless behavior? You may be eligible to seek monetary compensation, also known as damages, through a wrongful death claim in a civil court.
While no amount of money could compensate for your loved one’s death, an award of wrongful death damages can relieve some of your financial and emotional stress during this difficult time. Read on to learn about the types of damages in a wrongful death case in Orange County, CA, and what compensation may be available to you.
In a California wrongful death lawsuit, the deceased person’s surviving family members can seek compensation from the responsible party.
State law gives precedence to the immediate family members of the deceased individual. The order of priority under wrongful death laws is as follows:
The following parties can also file a wrongful death claim, whether or not they qualify under the previous section, if they were financially dependent on the decedent:
A minor child, whether or not they qualify under the previous two sections, has the right to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit if at the time of the deceased’s death:
Depending on the nature and extent of your losses, you may recover the following types of damages in a wrongful death case:
As the name suggests, compensatory damages aim for wrongful death to compensate you and other eligible family members for the loss of your loved one. There are two types of compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic or financial damages can compensate you for monetary losses such as:
The goal of these wrongful death damages is to compensate you for intangible losses with no clear dollar value, including:
Since 2022, you can also recover wrongful death damages for your loved one’s pain and suffering or disfigurement. You may not, however, recover damages for your own pain and suffering or mental anguish caused by the victim’s death.
Wrongful death punitive damages aren’t a form of compensation. With punitive damages, the law seeks to punish the wrongdoer and deter them and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
Punitive damages aren’t available in wrongful death lawsuits unless the death was due to a felony and the wrongdoer was convicted on criminal charges of homicide. However, punitive damages may be able available through a separate survival action.
In some cases, the decedent’s estate may initiate a type of lawsuit called survival action to recover compensation for losses suffered by the deceased person, not the surviving family members.
Damages available in survival actions include:
The deceased person’s estate can bring a survival action for two types of losses:
Additionally, to be eligible for punitive damages, the deceased must have suffered some economic harm, no matter how minuscule, in relation to the accident.
California law doesn’t set a cap on wrongful death damages except for a statutory limit on compensation for medical malpractice.
In all other cases, the jury will decide the amount of wrongful death damages based on various factors, including:
Usually, the jury will consult the life expectancy tables in Vital Statistics of the United States, but they aren’t binding. The judge in wrongful death lawsuits will direct the jury to keep in mind that some people live longer and others die sooner than the official life expectancy.
The jury is not to consider your emotional trauma, including grief, sorrow, mental anguish, pain, and suffering.
When determining your compensation amount in a wrongful death claim, the jury must reduce economic damages, such as compensation for future lost income, to their present cash value. There is no such requirement for non-economic damages.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. At Khalil Law Group, we can help you seek fair compensation for your loss through a wrongful death claim.
Our wrongful death attorneys can advise you on the types of damages in a wrongful death case in Orange County, CA. We can support you at every turn if you’re eligible to seek compensation. Call (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney.