Losing a loved one is inconceivable. When due to the negligence of another, the loss can be even more devastating.
Although no amount of money can ever bring back your family, it may assist in easing your financial burden. As you consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you may be wondering about the wrongful death lawsuit settlements average in California.
Any experienced personal injury attorney will tell you there’s no average amount, as each case presents its own unique set of facts. Learn what your case may be worth by speaking to a qualified personal injury attorney.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
When a person dies due to the negligent or wrongful act by another, this gives rise to a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawsuit in California is a type of personal injury claim brought by a deceased victim’s family. Wrongful death lawsuits seek to compensate surviving family members for their losses.
Wrongful death claims are not brought in criminal court but in civil court. This type of lawsuit seeks to hold a defendant civilly liable for a loved one’s death.
If the victim’s family can prove that the defendant’s negligent or wrongful actions caused their loved one’s death, the court orders the defendant to pay the victim’s family a certain amount of damages.
Wrongful death lawsuits may be based on any type of wrongful act, including negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. Wrongful death claims may result from any of the following and many more incidents:
- Slip and fall accidents,
- Car accidents,
- Abuse or neglect,
- Defective products,
- A fatal workplace accident, or
- Medical malpractice.
A wrongful death action is different from a survival action, which seeks compensation for the losses suffered by the victim prior to their death, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Under California law, the following parties may file a wrongful death lawsuit in California:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner,
- Surviving children,
- Anyone entitled to inherit from the victim under California laws of intestate succession,
- Putative spouse,
- Children of a putative spouse,
- Stepchildren, and
- Parents of the victim.
This is the order in which surviving family members may bring a wrongful death action in California.
A putative spouse and those below them on the list must show that they were financially dependent on the victim to file a wrongful death claim. A putative spouse is a person who was unaware that their spouse was already married and believed they were in a valid marriage.
Factors Affecting Wrongful Death Settlements in California
A personal injury attorney will never provide you with a wrongful death lawsuits settlements average. In California, multiple factors affect the value of a case.
However, after a review of the facts and circumstances regarding your case, a personal injury attorney may be able to provide you with a range of values.
California does not provide a damages cap, which would otherwise limit how much you could recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. Factors that influence wrongful death settlements in California include the following:
- If the victim was young at the time of death,
- If the victim had numerous children or financial dependents,
- The age of the victim’s children or financial dependents,
- Whether the surviving spouse was financially dependent on the victim,
- The value of gifts that the victim’s loved ones expected during the victim’s life,
- Circumstances of the victim’s death, and
- Whether the victim was involved in the community.
These factors may also negatively affect the value of wrongful death settlements in California.
For example, consider a circumstance where someone files a wrongful death lawsuit for an elderly man with no surviving spouse and no children. This man was also determined to be partly at fault for the accident resulting in his death.
It is likely that a scenario involving a young victim with a surviving spouse and multiple young children would likely recover a much higher amount in a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Damages Can I Recover?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members may pursue both economic and non-economic damages. An attorney reviews the circumstances surrounding the case in negotiating settlements with the defendant.
Even though an average wrongful death lawsuit may not exist in California, surviving family members may reach an agreement without going to trial.
Economic damages seek to compensate the victim’s family for the financial support they expected to receive had the victim not died. Factors affecting economic damage awards include:
- The decedent’s age,
- The decedent’s income and earning potential,
- The decedent’s life expectancy, and
- The decedent’s health prior to the injury.
The court typically considers the circumstances of the decedent at the time of their passing. Economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit may include the following type of damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses,
- The loss of financial support to family members,
- Loss of gifts expected from the decedent,
- Value of lost benefits, such as pension and retirement, and
- The reasonable value of household services the decedent would have provided.
Economic damages represent tangible and quantifiable losses. They may be calculated from statements, records, medical bills, past expenses, expected future expenses, and projections of future lost earnings.
Non-economic damages represent intangible and subjective losses that are difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of companionship and support,
- Loss of affection,
- Loss of sexual relations,
- Loss of moral support, and
- Loss of training and guidance.
There is no standard to determine what non-economic damages are worth. Therefore, they may amount to a large part of a wrongful death award.
If you lost a loved one due to another’s actions, the knowledgeable attorneys at the Saeedian Law Group can help. Since 2009, the Saeedian Law Group has helped injured individuals and their families seek compensation from responsible parties.
Serving clients throughout the Los Angeles area, we understand that each client deserves a tailored approach to their case. We are here to help you pick up the pieces after such a devastating event.
Contact us today for a free consultation and begin your journey toward healing.