What Can I Recover in a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

According to the latest data from the National Safety Council, unintentional fatal injuries are the fifth leading cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. In fact, of the approximate 180,000 deaths from injuries, 68% are unintentional injury deaths.

Common causes of accidental deaths include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Poisonings
  • Choking
  • Drowning
  • Falling objects
  • Roller coasters
  • Machinery
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Electrocution
  • Medical malpractice
  • Firearms
  • Suffocation
  • Fires and smoke

This list is not exhaustive. If you believe that your loved one was killed as a result of the negligence of another, whether in a car accident, by unsafe conditions at a local business, or another type of personal injury, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the wrongdoer and recover financial damages.

Wrongful death laws in California acknowledge that the victim's loved ones can suffer their own economic and non-economic losses due to the passing of someone close to them. For example, the heir of the wrongful death victim may be able to be compensated for:

  • The monetary support that the deceased would have contributed to the heir during the heir's life or the life of the victim, whichever is shorter;
  • The funeral and burial expenses; and
  • The reasonable value of the household services that the wrongful death victim would have provided to the heir.

Generally speaking, the judge or jury in a wrongful death trial is not allowed to consider the loved one's grief, sorrow or mental anguish or the victim's pain and suffering. As your wrongful death lawyer can explain, there is an exception in cases where a parent or sibling witnesses the injury or death of the victim. In such instances these individuals may claim damages for infliction of emotional distress.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation | Attorney Advertising

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