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Once a wrongful death lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff is expected to show proof of what factors were involved when the wrongful death occurred. This will help determine the appropriate damages that need to be given to the plaintiff. The main goal for the plaintiff is to make sure that they show enough evidence to prove that the defendant was negligent. Factors to consider are:

  • Duty of care. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased victim. An example could be a defendant not following road rules, thus resulting in the death of another driver. The plaintiff could use this as evidence proving that the defendant was required to follow the law, but failed at doing so.
  • Breach of Duty of Care. The plaintiff is expected to show proof that the defendant breached their duty of care. Specific evidence must be presented. An example could be the defendant getting into a car collision because they drove through a red light, which resulted in the death of the deceased victim.
  • Causation.The plaintiff needs to show that the defendant had negligent intentions prior to the incident.

Burden of Proof


The plaintiff must provide convincing evidence to the jury. If they are successful in doing so, then the allegations against the defendant would be considered more likely to be true than not true, which will result in the plaintiff winning. However, if the plaintiff fails at showing convincing evidence, then the defendant will win. When it comes to civil and criminal cases, the burden of proof varies. In civil cases, the standard is set lower for plaintiffs compared to prosecutors in criminal cases. Prosecutors are expected to show a substantial amount of proof against the defendant.

Defendants do not have to prove anything to prevent the jury from rewarding the plaintiff for damages. If a plaintiff is unable to convince the jury that the allegations they are claiming are true, then the defendant will be successful in the case even without having to present their evidence. However, they may use affirmative defense. This will create a reverse effect between the plaintiff and defendant, thus resulting in the defendant having to prove that the defense should be applied.

Available Damages


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
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
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

Punitive Damages
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% 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 your loved one was a victim of wrongful death, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled wrongful death attorneys that will get you the justice you deserve. Our attorneys will help you recover any emotional or financial compensation from your loss. This includes emotional distress, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There are no financial risks when being associated with our services. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with the attorneys at our firm. No fees are applied until we win your case. Reach out to our friendly legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].

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