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How Is Wrongful Death Compensation Calculated? - The Larsen Firm

How Is Wrongful Death Compensation Calculated?

No amount of money could ever make you feel whole again after losing a loved one because of someone else’s carelessness. The criminal justice system might punish the offender, but a conviction cannot replace the emotional and financial loss the victim’s family must endure. The best mechanism the law has to compensate the victim’s family for their loss is a wrongful death suit. 

If you seek wrongful death compensation for your loved one’s death, you will need an experienced and successful law firm to help you maximize your recovery. At The Larsen Firm, we have over 40 years of collective experience fighting for compensation for the family of victims whose lives were cut tragically short by someone’s wrongful act. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.

How Much Money Can You Expect from a Wrongful Death Suit Payout?

California’s wrongful death law allows certain people to receive wrongful death compensation. Individuals who qualify to file a wrongful death suit include the decedent’s spouse or domestic partner, the decedent’s children, and the issue of deceased children. If there is no surviving issue, then anyone allowed to inherit from the decedent according to the rules of intestate succession might be able to file. Finally, those who were dependent on the decedent for personal or financial support might be able to file a claim. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a lawsuit on behalf of all who qualify.

California’s wrongful death laws permit the plaintiff to recover damages that are “just” under the circumstances. What is “just” under the circumstances will depend on the facts of the case, the nature of the decedent’s family relationships, and the economic and emotional losses the survivors experienced.

Every situation, and therefore every claim, is unique. When you sit down with one of our award-winning wrongful death attorneys, we will thoroughly examine every aspect of your claim to help you recover just compensation for your losses.

Does California Have a Wrongful Death Compensation Formula?

California law does not have a particular formula for determining wrongful death compensation. According to California’s civil jury instructions, the claimant does not have to prove a specific dollar amount of damages. However, the plaintiff has to produce evidence of the economic and non-economic losses they suffered as a result of the death. 

Economic Damages

The jury instructions for the death of an adult break economic damages into present and future anticipated losses. Present economic losses include:

  • Financial support the decedent would have provided for their family during the shorter of the decedent’s life expectancy or the plaintiff’s life expectancy;
  • The loss of gifts or benefits that the plaintiff would have received from the decedent if they had lived;
  • Funeral and burial expenses; and
  • The reasonable value of the household services that the decedent would have provided. 

The court will instruct the jury to reduce the future damages to their present-day value. In other words, the jury cannot speculate about inflation. Expert witnesses like actuaries and accountants can help explain the dollar value of your loved one’s lost future financial contributions to the jury.

Non-Economic Damages

The jury must also calculate non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include:

  • Loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support;
  • Lost enjoyment of sexual relations; and
  • Lost training and guidance from the decedent.

The jury will hear how the loved one’s death affected the lives of the surviving family. The jury must use its collective judgment and common sense to arrive at a fair amount of compensation.

Damages Not Included in a Wrongful Death Action

The law prohibits the jury from considering specific facts in their deliberations. In a wrongful death suit, the jury cannot consider:

  • The plaintiff’s mental anguish, loss, or sorrow;
  • Any evidence of the decedent’s pain and suffering; or
  • Evidence concerning the relative wealth of the person who died.

The jury cannot consider these factors when deliberating on a wrongful death claim. However, California law allows the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to bring something called a “survival action” against the defendant. Typically, survival actions and wrongful death claims are separate legal issues. But a recent change in the law may streamline these independent legal proceedings.

Wrongful Death Damages for the Loss of a Child

Calculating damages for a wrongful death claim for the loss of a child is difficult, but California law offers some guidance on the issue. According to the California jury instructions, a successful plaintiff can receive economic and non-economic damages similar to the damages for an adult’s death. 

The instructions state that the jury can consider evidence of the financial support the child could have provided, the loss of gifts and benefits the child could have provided, the child’s funeral and burial expenses, and the reasonable value of household services. 

The jury can also award non-economic damages for the child’s love, companionship, society, care, and comfort. The jury should deduct the present cash value of the cost of raising and educating the child.

Do You Still Have Questions About How Wrongful Death Compensation Is Calculated?

The wrongful death lawyers from The Larsen Firm have a proven track record of success. Few law firms can claim they have recovered nearly $1 billion in damages like The Larsen Firm. Our track record of success has earned us several prestigious awards. Contact us today at 855-508-9565 to learn how we can help you.

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