What Kinds of Damages Can You Seek by Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?

If your loved one died in some kind of preventable accident, it’s only natural to want to hold the liable party accountable. While filing a wrongful death claim won’t bring the deceased back, it could yield the funds your family needs to pick up the pieces in the aftermath.  

In the state of California, wrongful death claimants can typically seek compensation for some the following:

Economic Damages 

The monetary losses that result from a wrongful death can vary immensely from case to case. Generally speaking, though, they almost always include: 

  • Medical expenses incurred while treating the deceased’s final injury or illness; 
  • Funeral and burial costs; 
  • Financial support, including income and benefits, that the deceased would have contributed to the household had he or she survived; 
  • Loss of anticipated inheritances; and 
  • Loss of domestic help, including child care, meal preparation, and housekeeping.  

Non-Economic Damages

California tort law recognizes the fact that an unanticipated death in the family can be just as devastating emotionally as it is financially. As such, the state allows eligible claimants to seek compensation for certain non-monetary losses in addition to the typical monetary losses listed above.  

Non-monetary losses refer to losses that, while intangible, are every bit as real as their monetary counterpart. Examples include the loss of affection, comfort, companionship, love, society, and support that the claimant suffers as a result of the wrongful death.

Punitive Damages 

Most tort claims, including those involving wrongful death, do not warrant punitive damages. Claimants are usually only able to secure compensatory damages, which include both monetary and non-monetary losses.  

There are some scenarios, however, in which the court wants to punish the defendant for malice, oppression, or fraud. When this is the case, the judge can order them to pay a punitive award on top of the standard compensatory award.  

How Can My Family Pursue the Maximum Payout Possible?

The outcome of your wrongful death claim is going to depend on a variety of factors, many of which are out of your control. There are a few steps you can take, however, to bolster your case so it has the best chance of success. Such steps include:  

  • Logging all economic damages diligently, 
  • Preserving evidence from the fatal accident, 
  • Keeping a journal in which you write about how your life has changed since the loss, 
  • Staying off social media until your case has been resolved,
  • Seeking legal counsel, and
  • Referring the opposing party to your legal team.  

Speak with a California Wrongful Death Attorney   

Would your loved one still be here if someone had exercised reasonable care? To see if your family has grounds for a wrongful death claim, turn to Harris Personal Injury Lawyers.  

Our compassionate team is well-versed in tort law, and we have the knowledge, resources, and experience to see every case through to the end. To schedule your free initial consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in California, call 1-800-GO-HARRIS or complete our Contact Form.