Wrongful Death FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Wrongful Death in California

If a family member is killed because of the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, the lawful heirs may file a civil lawsuit in California for wrongful death for monetary damages against the person or entity that caused the death.  If the death was caused by a criminal rather than a negligent act, the state may file a separate criminal action against the wrongdoer.

If the death involved a father or a mother with a family; the damages can be very substantial including past and future lost economic support to the children and spouse.  Children may also seek economic damages for lost support from the father or mother even after reaching majority age, if it can be shown that the father or mother was going to provide additional support for college or for an extended time after the children reached majority age.  This may also include gifts and benefits that either the spouse or children could expect to receive from the deceased spouse and parent.  Another economic damage is the loss of the reasonable value of household services that the decedent would have provided as well as funeral and burial expenses.

The heirs can also claim damages for the loss of love, companionship, comfort, society, care, assistance, protection, affection, and moral support from the decedent.  The spouse can claim the loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations.  Heirs can also claim damages for the loss of training and guidance from the decedent.

The loss of a minor child is emotionally catastrophic for the parents and siblings.  Parents can claim damages for similar financial losses as described above and for the loss of love, companionship, comfort, society, care, assistance, protection, affection, and moral support from the decedent child.

Wrongful death cases may include death from an automobile accident, defective products, construction accidents, industrial accidents, shooting cases, medical malpractice, and any negligent or wrongful conduct that causes another person’s death.

Some examples are:

  • The person who caused the death by negligence or intentional conduct.
  • The employer of the negligent person who caused the death if the death was caused while the person was on the job.
  • The manufacturer of a defective product that caused the death.
  • The owner of a business or residential (including apartment complex) premises who had notice of a dangerous condition and did nothing to reduce the danger that caused the death of a person lawfully on the premises.

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