The death of a loved one takes an enormous toll on spouses, children, parents, and other family members. Hardships, from emotional to financial, may be extreme. Should a person or entity engage in negligent or intentional behavior that led to someone else’s death, survivors or the decedent’s estate can bring civil action on that party and be eligible to receive wrongful death damages.
Recoverable Damages from the Deceased
One of two applicable categories, damages incurred by the deceased apply from the moment an event or negligent act that caused their death occurred. A car accident is a common example. Whether the injured person’s death occurred hours or weeks later, the damages that survivors may be entitled to include:
- Medical expenses related to treatment prior to death, including hospital bills.
- The pain and suffering experienced by the decedent while they were alive.
- Lost income and potential income that person would have been expected to earn.
- The costs of burial and holding a funeral.
Damages Available to Next of Kin
The second category of damages include losses experienced by survivors. Compensating family members and others close to the decedent, these damages can include lost wages that person would have earned and may factor in losses such as:
- Lack of anticipated financial support from that individual.
- The value of household services they provided while still alive.
- Loss of consortium, or compensation for a lack of the deceased’s love and companionship.
- Emotional trauma due to the loss of a spouse or partner.
Loss of consortium can be hard to gauge without experienced wrongful death attorneys. It generally compensates minor children for guidance a lost adult parent would have provided, or surviving partners for the love, attention, and moral support of the decedent.
The courts may also award damages to punish the defendant for the deceased’s death. Punitive damages apply if the defendant’s actions were especially reckless or negligent. In addition to punishment, these damages can be used to prevent similar behavior from occurring again and may add significantly to the total amount awarded.
How Does Wrongful Death Work in California?
Each state has its own laws regarding wrongful death. California’s wrongful death statute permits only a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child to file suit, although financially dependent parents and stepchildren may as well. A lawsuit can be filed by anyone with entitlements to the decedent’s property (by intestate succession) if there’s no surviving person in that individual’s line of descent.
What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
A statute of limitations prevents claimants from filing a wrongful death claim more than two years after a decedent’s death. Families must file suit in the civil court system. If the lawsuit isn’t filed in time, family members may never be able to file one.
Obtain Legal Funding in Los Angeles
The complexities of wrongful death claims mean your case may take a while to settle or conclude. Don’t be pressured into settling early for an amount less than what you deserve. FCA Legal Funding offers non-recourse pre-settlement funding that requires no up-front, out-of-pocket payments. Apply online in minutes and receive your payment within 24 hours.
Legal funding amounts depend only on the facts of your case. If you don’t win, you still get to keep the money. Repayment comes directly from your wrongful death damages—you get to keep the rest and be duly compensated for your losses.