Many people don’t realize that a wrongful death action is quite different from a personal injury case. It’s not a claim on behalf of the deceased family member (like a survival action is). It’s a claim for yourself.
This means you’ll have to prove your losses and show you’re entitled to compensation under the law. But what kind of wrongful death compensation can be recovered in California? Here’s some information to help you understand what’s compensable.
Certain Losses are Compensable – With Proof
Generally speaking, the compensable losses in a California wrongful death claim are those of financial support, emotional support, companionship, and any gifts that the decedent would give you on a regular basis. But you’ll need proof of these losses. Your word is not enough.
Don’t assume that you have no case because the financial element is missing. At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’ve seen plenty of wrongful death cases that didn’t involve direct financial support. Let’s look at two different scenarios where you may be able to recover wrongful death compensation.
Scenario 1: A Spouse’s Loss of a Working Spouse
Imagine that you’re a non-working spouse and your working spouse is killed in an accident. For years, you’ve been relying on your spouse to provide a stable household income. Now you’ve lost financial support in addition to your other losses like spousal care and companionship.
In this case, you have a very large component to damages with regards to the decedent’s loss of work earnings. You have a major economic component that’s hard to deny, and you may have the basis of a large wrongful death claim.
Scenario 2: An Adult Child’s Loss of a Single Mother
Now let’s look at the case of a 40-year-old adult son whose only living relative is his single mother. Although the mother doesn’t contribute financially to the adult son, nor vice versa, the two have a very tight emotional relationship. When she dies, he’s heartbroken.
In this case – which is an actual case we handled at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers – the damages are loss of companionship, mentorship, and emotional damages. Although there is no financial loss, it’s a devastating emotional loss.
Important Things to Know About Wrongful Death Damages
As you can see, if you were very dependent on the person who passed away, you may have a strong claim for wrongful death compensation. Whether the dependence was financial or emotional, a successful claim is possible.
The key is to gather persuasive documentation and present it skillfully. This is exactly what a talented California wrongful death lawyer can do.
If the support was financial, we can help you organize documentation that shows what your loved one made and how this money supported you. If the support was emotional, oddly enough you’ll still need to provide documentation that shows your strong relationship with the person.
The other side will need to see things like letters, emails, and other obvious evidence that you shared a close relationship. Although this may feel a bit rude and intrusive, providing this documentation could be the key to winning your wrongful death action.
Fair warning that the situation could get a bit ugly. The other side may try to dig into your personal history and show that your relationship wasn’t so rosy. They’ll look for any little scraps of evidence to negate your claim.
That’s why it’s so important to get a wrongful death attorney on the case as soon as possible. We can help you avoid dealing directly with negativity from the other side and find some peace during a difficult time. At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’re here to handle your wrongful death case with care and compassion.
During a difficult time, hiring a wrongful death lawyer comes as a huge relief. At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, have a reputation for securing much-needed compensation for families in wrongful death lawsuits. We’re here to handle your case with skill and care.
“Could not be happier with my experience. Physically injured, anxiety riddled, and emotionally exhausted post accident- I could not have pushed through the accident aftermath alone. Their support was unmatched and I am so grateful for the empathic communication, strong legal presence, direct functioning, and assistance in finding solutions. I didn’t understand anything about my accident, medical insurance, or obtaining legal support- Annie (and Carmen!) made things happen in a way that helped me understand and work through the post accident insanity. I couldn’t be happier with having chosen them to represent me.” – Kira M.
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Which kind of compensation can be recovered in wrongful death cases? Is something that is quite different than normal personal injury cases. When you bring a wrongful death action, you are bringing a claim for yourself. You’re not bringing a claim on behalf of the deceased family member. You are bringing a claim for your losses. Your losses that are compensable under a wrongful death claim are those of financial support, emotional support, companionship, any gifts that the decedent would give you on a regular basis. I’ve had a lot of wrongful death cases where there wasn’t the financial support element. Let’s say you’re a non-working spouse and your working spouse is killed in an accident. You obviously have a very large component to damages with regards to the decedent’s loss of earnings, so that’s a big economic component. Let’s say, for instance, in a case I had where it was a single mother who was only survived by an adult son, who was like 40. The mother didn’t contribute financially to the son but they had a very tight emotional relationship. The damages that he recovered were loss of her companionship, her mentorship and some more emotional damages. There wasn’t any financial loss, it was all an emotional loss. So that’s important to know. If you were very dependent on the person who passed for financial support, those claims are pretty easy to make because you have documentation of what they made and how they supported the family. However, if you don’t have that, then you need to have a lot of documentation, which is strange, of your relationship with that person. Because those are the damages now you’ll be claiming. You’ll be claiming, “Well, my mother and I had such a close relationship,” and it’s really crazy, but the other side will be like, “Well, do you have any letters or emails or things like that, that show how that relationship was?” It can get pretty ugly. The other side will dig into how good the relationship was or try and point out things, trouble in the relationships.So, it’s very important to get a wrongful death attorney on the case as soon as possible, so that you can avoid dealing with that sort of thing from the other side.