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Compensation for Wrongful Death Settlements

What Compensation Are You Entitled to After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One?

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers know that there is no amount of financial compensation that can compare to the value of the life of a loved one that was lost in wrongful death. However, filing a wrongful death claim can at least help retrieve compensation for the calculated losses that the family of the deceased experience. 

While this is not the same as getting legal justice against the perpetrator of the wrongful death, this is a way to financially relieve the family of a lost loved one after their death. 

Filing a wrongful death claim holds perpetrators financially accountable and ensure that families are taken care of and not overburdened with expenses and financial losses due to the wrongful death. 

What is Considered Wrongful Death?

While the unnatural and untimely death of all loved ones seems wrong, there are certain circumstances that legally delegate the death of a loved one as wrongful death. Wrongful death is not manslaughter per se, but it is the liability for someone’s death via negligence. 

Negligence refers to when someone breaches their duty of care to another, or rather, their responsibility to keep others safe from harm and hazard. When someone’s negligence results in injuries and subsequent death, this is a form of wrongful death. 

Who Can Recieve Compensation for the Wrongful Death of a Loved One?

There are strict guidelines concerning who can receive compensation on behalf of the wrongful death of a loved one. The only people who can file a claim or a lawsuit for wrongful death are the family members or heirs of the decedent.

Here’s some examples listing who could file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit: 

  • the parents of deceased children 
  • the children of a deceased parent 
  • the spouse of a deceased partner 
  • the grandparents or siblings of the deceased in the case that closer relations are no longer living 

While these different parties are entitled to compensation, it is important to know that these different parties affected by the wrongful death of a loved one cannot file separate lawsuits, only a single action lawsuit may be filed. 

Whatsmore is that the compensation received in a wrongful death case will be divided among the heirs per the intestate laws of California. 

Available Damages for Wrongful Death

Compensation in personal injury cases, such as wrongful death, is referred to as damages. Damages include compensation for losses that are economic and non-economic. 

Economic damages refer to the family’s financial losses experienced with the loss of the deceased. Economic damages in a wrongful death case include compensation for the following and more: 

  • Medical costs 
  • Funeral costs
  • Loss of services 
  • Lost financial support 
  • Loss of gifts or benefits

Non-economic damages refer to the family’s emotional and supportive losses experienced with the death of their loved one. Non-economic damages in a wrongful death case include compensation for the following and more: 

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Loss of emotional support, training, and guidance 

What About Punitive Damages for Malice?

What sets the damages available in wrongful death cases apart from other personal injury cases is the fact that punitive damages are not available as compensation. 

Punitive damages are those that are awarded on top of other forms of compensation to serve as an extra punishment to the perpetrator of the negligence that caused the personal injury.

Punitive damages are already relatively rare, accounting for compensation in only about 5% of all cases. However, in a wrongful death case, even this rare occasion of being allotted punitive damages is outwritten. 

Families of a decedent are only eligible for punitive damages if they file a survival action lawsuit rather than a wrongful death suit. 

Survival Action Lawsuit

A survival action suit is similar to a wrongful death suit, though the difference is that it takes into account the property damage that occurred to the wrongful death victim before they passed away. 

The family of a decedent who died immediately upon contact with the negligent perpetrator without having experienced property damage is not eligible to file a survival action lawsuit. The family of a decedent who died after experiencing property damage and personal injury that resulted in their subsequent wrongful death is eligible to file a survival action lawsuit, however. 

For example, if a person dies after experiencing head trauma after being impacted in a car crash where their car was damaged, their family can file a survival action lawsuit and be eligible for punitive damages. 

On the other hand, if a person dies immediately upon contact by an officer who shoots them without experiencing property damage beforehand, for example, the decedent’s family is not eligible to file a survival action lawsuit. In this case, they would only be eligible to file a wrongful death claim/lawsuit. 

However, if we use the same example as above and add property damage into the mix, then the family would be able to file for a survival action lawsuit. For example, if an officer shoots somebody and that person experienced property damage before they died, such as the ramming of their vehicle or destruction of their clothing or personal property, then this opens up the possibility of a survival action lawsuit. With this would come the eligibility for punitive damages. 

West Coast Trial Lawyers is Here to Help

The wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are here to serve your family and help you through these difficult times. We can assure that you get the compensation that you deserve for the invaluable loss of your loved one. 

We also offer our services on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning that you will pay nothing upfront until we win or settle your case. 

Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at (213) 927 - 3700 or email us at [email protected] to set up your appointment with our kind and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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