California Wrongful Death Law
When a person has died because of the negligence or wrongful misconduct of another, the family of the deceased may bring a wrongful death action to recover for their losses. Damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit may include the following types of losses:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support and gifts
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of marital relations
- Loss of training and guidance
A wrongful death action is properly brought by the surviving spouse or domestic partner, or by the surviving children. If there are no surviving children, the surviving grandchildren may bring the action. If there are no surviving parents, children or grandchildren, the deceased’s next of kin is entitled under the law to bring a lawsuit. Also, the parents or stepchildren of the deceased may file a wrongful death case if they were dependent on the deceased for support. In any case, the plaintiff must still be able to prove all the facts, such as the defendant’s negligence and the costs to the plaintiffs of the loss of their loved one. Proving a wrongful death case is sometimes more difficult than a personal injury, since the deceased is of course not available to provide details about the accident.
Survival Actions under California Law
When a person who was injured and therefore entitled to bring a personal injury lawsuit dies before initiating or completing a lawsuit, the deceased person’s estate may bring a survival action to recover damages for the benefit of the heirs and beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate. The types of damages recoverable in a survival action are the same as those that could have been recovered in a personal injury lawsuit, such as medical expenses or punitive damages if applicable.
Since the recoverable damages are different between wrongful death and survival actions, bringing both types of cases usually results in the greatest compensation for the surviving family members. Courts will often allow the plaintiffs to join the two actions together and try them as one, since many of the issues overlap.
Compassionate, Caring and Strong Representation
We know that no amount of money can bring a person back or make up for the loss of a loved one. But the loss of a family member puts very real and often very extensive financial pressures on the surviving family members, and it is simply unjust to not hold the responsible parties accountable while the family suffers financially. At Pisegna & Zimmerman, we use our knowledge and experience to thoroughly investigate every accident and identify all responsible parties and sources of income for injured parties. If you have lost a loved one in an automobile accident, workplace accident, or other serious accident in Southern California, please contact our law firm for a free consultation regarding how we may help you recover for your losses.