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Work with experienced attorney to seek damages for death of loved one

In our last post, we began speaking about wrongful death litigation and who may bring such an action in California. In any personal injury case, compensatory damages are the primary category of damages to which plaintiff’s may be entitled. These include economic losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and so on. It also includes noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and things of that nature.

In wrongful death litigation, economic damages include the loss of financial support the deceased person provided, the loss of value of gifts and benefits the person provided, as well as loss of the deceased individual’s companionship, protection, affection and support and the loss of training and guidance for dependent children. Careful calculation of these damages is important, but it can be difficult. 

It should be noted that there is a difference between wrongful death actions and survival actions. The latter are brought to seek recovery for damages suffered by a deceased individual prior to his or her death, while the latter are aimed at damages suffered by family members of the deceased as a result of the wrongful actions of another. Another important point is that California courts generally do not allow wrongful death plaintiffs to recover damages for mental and emotional distress.

Also worth pointing out is that wrongful death litigation can involve punitive damages only when the deceased individual’s death was caused by felony homicide for which the defendant has been convicted. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff, and plaintiffs who may qualify for such damages should certainly work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest possible case. 

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