According to California law, several claimants can only fill in one wrongful death claim. Thus, to recover damages, everyone must file under the same claim.
Who May File a Claim?
Only several people are eligible to claim damages following a wrongful death. The California Code of Civil Procedure specifies that a surviving spouse, domestic partner, and children have priority in bringing a wrongful death claim under Section 377.60. Thus, anyone legally entitled to the decedent’s property through intestate succession may file if these parties are not present. This may, in some instances, involve parents, stepchildren, or a potential spouse. In certain situations, people financially dependent on the deceased may also be eligible to sue for damages in a wrongful death case.
What Wrongful Death Damages Can a Family Member Recover?
Here is the list of damages one can recover in a wrongful death claim:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of household support
- Hospital and medical costs
- Loss of future financial support
- Loss of household services
- Loss of marital relations
- Loss of guidance for a minor child
How Is a Wrongful Death Damage Value Determined?
In California, most wrongful death claims can be resolved through settlement, which involves negotiations between the insurance company and the claimant to determine a reasonable settlement sum. However, there are certain cases are heard in court and determined by a judge and jury. In any case, the party calculating a fair judgment will follow specific procedures to choose the correct sum to give a family in monetary compensation.
The family’s financial losses due to the death will be added to any foreseeable future losses. The attorney usually uses hard evidence to establish economic damages, such as invoices, bills, receipts, and the decedent’s previous pay stubs. On the other hand, the valuation of noneconomic damages is more arbitrary. It depends on the beneficiaries’ relationship with the decedent, the home services the decedent provided, and if the decedent is leaving behind a spouse or young children.
Does California Place a Cap on Damages?
In California, only medical malpractice cases have a damage cap, which sets the maximum amount of compensation one can recover. So, your family cannot receive more than $250,000 in noneconomic damages if you are suing for wrongful death brought on by medical misconduct. Under California law, a person can’t recover punitive damages in a criminal death case.
Dividing an Award Received From a Wrongful Death Claim
Generally, after recovering the damages, the family members can decide how to distribute the award.
However, there are cases when family members disagree on the divided shares. Then the court can decide how to distribute the funds. As a result, the court takes into consideration the following:
- The financial needs of each family member
- The future losses of each family member
- Expenses the family member has already spent
- The pain and suffering
- The insurance policy
Contact Kaass Law Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
The law would be on your side if someone else’s negligence caused the death of a loved one. You might be qualified to sue the responsible party for wrongful death. No amount of money could ever make up for the grief and suffering you have endured, but neither you nor your family should have to endure financial hardship. Contact a Los Angeles Attorney today for a consultation on your case. Wrongful death cases are one of our many practices. Please dial 310.943.1171 to speak to our specialized attorneys. Call us now!