Only specific individuals are permitted to bring a claim for wrongful death after any negligence-related death in the state of California. If you have recently lost a loved one, learning your legal rights to file a lawsuit is the first step in getting the justice you deserve for losing a loved one.

Bruce G. Fagel- What does the law say?

Dr. Bruce G. Fagel is a widely respected doctor and attorney specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. He says that damages include but are not restricted to the following-

  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • The amount that the deceased might have earned as an income.
  • Compensation for the loss of the deceased’s support and companionship.

The above cases are the same as the cause of action pertaining to the loss of consortium under the law in California. The loss of consortium applies to those situations where a registered domestic partner or a spouse is deprived of the intimacy or the companionship of any living partner due to the wrongful act of someone.

 A legal suit pertaining to wrongful death is generally coupled with the California “survival” cause of action that comes under CCP 377.30. In such cases, the survival causes of the action are brought on behalf of the estate of the victim to compensate for the loss that has been suffered by the victim (as opposed to family) from the wrongful action conducted.

One cannot claim punitive damages

He says that in the case of a legal suit pertaining to wrongful death, punitive damages cannot be claimed under the state of California. The sole way for one to get punitive damages from the wrongdoer is via a survival cause of action.

In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, the court compensates the surviving family members of the deceased person for their loss. The survival lawsuit permits the heirs to sue on behalf of the estate of the deceased.

Under the state, the legal survival action compensates the estate of the deceased person for the following losses-

  1. The claims that are not related to the death and which the person deceased has the legal right to sue for as on the date of the death,
  2. Claims for the said injury that resulted in the death provided the individual has survived the injuries for at least some time (no matter how short the time period was,)
  3. Claims for the above injury resulted in death provided the individual survived injuries for at least some time, irrespective of how short it might have been.

Bruce G. Fagel concludes by saying that survival actions are complicated. It is prudent for you to always visit a skilled and experienced lawyer to understand the nuances of your case. However, there is one significant difference that any survival action can do, and that offers the party an award for punitive damages. He states the above two actions might and generally are tried together when they originate from the same wrongful act.