California Child Wrongful Death Laws
Wrongful Death Cases Involving the Loss of Children or Their Parents
Losing a child is one of the most difficult things anyone can experience, especially if the death was caused by someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice. A wrongful death claim involves the challenging task of quantifying how much value a person’s life means to surviving family members. This is a difficult task for any human being, but more so for a child.
Below, our experienced wrongful death attorneys will discuss wrongful death claims that involve children. If you have lost a child, West Coast Trial Lawyers is always here to answer any questions you may have about loss of consortium claims and available damages you may be entitled to.
Loss of a Child
Quantifying damages when an adult dies is fairly straightforward, because it involves the loss of financial earnings, care, and guidance that the individual would have provided for their spouse, registered domestic partner, and/or children. These losses are not too difficult to assess.
For example, say that a parent dies in a preventable slip and fall. Their children can recover not only that parent’s lost income, but the loss of care, guidance, and support that parent would have provided, as well.
However, the parents of a child who is killed may only recover financial losses. These losses are typically determined by:
- The nature of the relationship the deceased child had with those filing a wrongful death claim.
- The age, health, and overall circumstances of those filing a wrongful death claim.
- The sex, age, life expectancy, heatlh, work expectancy, and general habits of the deceased child.
- The deceased child’s earning potential.
Despite the above considerations, it is clear that determining a dollar amount for a child’s life is still very complex. Much of this work involves speculation. For obvious reasons, the younger the age of the child in question, the more difficult it is to speculate with much accuracy about how their life may have eventually turned out. Consider the circumstances of a 5 year old. There is literally a world of unknown possibilities for a child who is that young, and it is nearly impossible to predict their future.
On the other hand, a 17 year old with excellent grades who was on the verge of attending an ivy league university is relatively much easier to speculate on, especially when it comes to future earnings.
Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.
Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.
Limitations for Damages in California
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.
However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled attorneys that have background experience with handling cases relating to wrongful death. Our attorneys will help you get financial and emotional compensation for the losses you have suffered after losing your friend or family member. This includes, but is not limited to, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are charged until we win your case. Reach out to our friendly legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].