When a loved one dies due to recklessness, negligence or because of an intentional act, the surviving family members can file a lawsuit in California. While the damages will not replace a loved one, they do make it possible for the family to move forward without suffering financial loss as well. After working hard to build a life for themselves and their immediate family, the deceased would not want all their hard work to crumble at the feet of their surviving family members.
Who Decides How Much Compensation Should Be Paid?
In California, it is the jury that decides just how much compensation the family should receive. In doing this, the jury is mandated to follow certain rules.
Do Family Members Have Different Needs?
Of course, they do. For instance, the spouse who relied on her partner for support has different needs than the couple’s children. The court is able to ensure that all parties receive the amount that they need and deserve. In fact, it is necessary to look at each claimant in an effort to see how much they should receive.
Initially, there are certain losses that need to be included in the wrongful death lawsuit. For most cases, the following are included:
- The cost of funeral and burial expenses.
- Calculation of the income and benefits the deceased person would have earned throughout their work-life had they not died.
- The loss of all services done by the deceased that after their death would depend on other individuals to be done must be calculated. Such services include cooking, taking care of the yard, other household chores and caring for children.
- Loss of all household support such as paying for the mortgage and providing for purchases such as clothing and personal items for children and other household members.
- The loss of emotional support that cannot be calculated as a tangible item is included. This type of support includes guidance, love, affection, moral support and attention.
It should be noted that not all family members lose the same things nor the same monetary amount. For example, if the parents of the deceased received more than 50 percent of their support from the decedent but did not live with them, the parents would not suffer the loss of household services and would not be compensated.
Calculating the Actual Damages in a Wrongful Death
Once the types of damages are determined, it becomes necessary to delve deeper into the specific losses the surviving family members suffered. At the top of the economic damages, which are based on the actual monetary loss, comes the expense of the funeral and burial. There is an average that these expenses usually cost in different areas of California, and that would be a base for calculating these expenses.
Lost Future Earnings
Next, it is necessary to determine how much the deceased would have earned for the remainder of his or her working years. To do this, the family’s attorney would have to determine how much longer the deceased would have worked in light of their age and physical condition.
The nature of the decedent’s abilities, education and special skills would need to be considered also. After this, the attorney would calculate the potential for bonuses the person would have received as well as expected raises.
In addition, the advocate for the decedent’s family would also need to calculate the monies from benefits and retirement accounts as well as adjusting the earnings due to inflation.
Because of the complexity of these calculations in some cases, experts are needed to reach a conclusion. In our firm, we have the resources to bring the experts on board.
Final Steps in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Once all the calculations are made, the attorney will make sure the claim is filed in the proper jurisdictional court. Usually, this is where the accident occurred or in the area where the defendant lives. The eligible participants in the wrongful death claim are determined. The first level includes the spouse of the decedent and his or her children. Dependent parents, minor children or siblings come next and are those who receive support from the decedent.
If level one is devoid of dependents, then the second level will take precedent. In the event that there are no dependents, the California probate court will decide who receives monies from the estate.
Free Case Review with LA Wrongful Death Lawyer David Azizi
The law firm of David Azizi is experienced in helping families with compassionate care who have lost a loved one. His firm is able to use their own experts to determine the compensation that may be received. There is no doubt that Super Lawyers’ assessment of David as one of the top personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles is true. Call his office at (800) 991-5292 to schedule a free evaluation.