blog home Wrongful Death Wrongful Death Damages: Economic and Non-Economic Losses

Wrongful Death Damages: Economic and Non-Economic Losses

By Joseph Low on September 10, 2023

Man in black placing his hand on a casket and holding flowers in another hand at a funeral.

Wrongful death occurs when a person dies through the negligence or wrongdoing of another. Surviving family members may be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim to hold the responsible party accountable and recover compensation for their family. It is important to understand damages in Long Beach wrongful death cases. They are somewhat different than in other types of personal injury lawsuits.

Economic Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate injured parties for their losses. Economic damages refer to compensation for objectively verifiable monetary losses. Common economic damages in wrongful death cases include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses related to the last injury or illness of the deceased
  • Financial support the deceased would have provided had they lived
  • Estimated value of gifts and benefits the deceased would have provided
  • Equivalent monetary value of household tasks the deceased would have performed

Non-economic Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

On the other hand, non-economic damages refer to compensation for subjective, non-monetary losses suffered by the claimant. They are designed to compensate the families of wrongful death victims for the intangible, emotional harm of losing a loved one. Common non-economic damages in California wrongful death claims include:

  • Pain, suffering, or disfigurement of the deceased victim leading up to death
  • Loss of affection, company, care, protection, help, and emotional support from the deceased
  • Loss of consortium – enjoyment of sexual relations for surviving spouses or domestic partners
  • Loss of training and guidance from the deceased

Factors Affecting Damages

The life expectancy of the deceased had it not been for the incident that caused wrongful death, is an important factor in determining economic and non-economic damages. Pursuant to a California civil jury instruction, the jury may consider the average life expectancy of a person of that age and the deceased individual’s health, habits, activities, lifestyle, and occupation. Jurors may use life expectancy tables from vital statistics for the U.S. as a basis, but they are not necessarily bound by the numbers contained in these tables. Economic damages awards are reduced to present cash value, as money received now can grow to a larger amount in the future through investments.

The jury decides on non-economic damages awards based on common sense and judgment as to what is reasonable. The amount for non-economic damages is not reduced to the present cash value. The jury is instructed not to consider the grief, sorrow, pain and suffering, mental anguish, or financial condition of surviving family members in determining the non-economic damages.

Establishing Negligence or Wrongdoing and Liability

To recover damages in a wrongful death claim, the first step is establishing that the negligent or intentional actions of the defendant led to the victim’s death. Your Long Beach personal injury attorney must show that:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased: For example, all drivers have a duty of care to others on the road.
  • The defendant breached that duty: The breach of duty could be negligent driving or any other negligent or intentional action that resulted in the victim’s death.
  • The defendant’s breach of duty caused the victim’s death: Expert testimony may be required to establish that, but for the defendant’s actions, the deceased would not have died.
  • Surviving family members of the deceased incurred damages due to the death of their loved one.

Committed to Getting Justice for You and Your Loved One

If you have lost a loved one in an incident that was someone else’s fault in Long Beach, no amount of money can ever compensate you for your loss. A wrongful death claim is a way to seek justice for your loved one and compensation for your family.

Contact The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV for compassionate legal support and guidance from a Long Beach wrongful death lawyer with extensive experience. Head attorney Joseph Low has helped numerous families recover and is rated 10.0 Superb by Avvo.

Call (562) 901-0840 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Posted in: Wrongful Death

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