The death of a loved one is devastating, and no amount of money can bring that person back. Yet, there is a specific area of the law that allows grieving family members to pursue compensation for their loss if the death was the result of negligence. The amount of compensation a person or family can recover is based on the “value” of the deceased person’s life, if you can even put a monetary worth on such a thing. Because of this, there is no “average” wrongful death settlement. Settlements can range from small amounts to millions of dollars, depending on a number of variables, with a strong attorney being one of them.
If you have recently filed a wrongful death claim, or if you are thinking about doing so, contact the Orange County wrongful death attorneys at RMD Law for aggressive legal assistance. We have helped our clients recover up to $2 million in damages for wrongful death cases alone, and we want to help you do the same.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death is one that occurs as the result of negligence, accident, injury, medical malpractice, or homicide. Homicide is one of the most common causes for wrongful death claims. These cases occur independently of the criminal justice proceedings and take place in civil court.
Wrongful death claims typically arise when the deceased person’s family members are left financially vulnerable. In addition to being emotionally trying, death is financially burdensome. There are funeral expenses to consider and medical bills to pay. In many cases, the partner of the deceased is left to raise one or more children on his or her own. The law allows aggrieved family members an opportunity to recover compensation from the negligent or malicious party via a wrongful death claim.
Factors That Affect the Amount of Recovery in a Wrongful Death Suit
As mentioned above, there are a number of factors that affect the outcome of a wrongful death claim. Because it is so difficult to put a dollar value on a human life, the decision makers must balance many factors. Some such factors include the age and health of the victim at the time of death, the nature of the accident or injury that caused the death, whether or not the victim accrued medical expenses prior to his or her death, the victim’s earning capacity, and whether or not the victim has young children. Depending on which factors apply, plaintiffs in a wrongful death claim can recover compensation for the following:
● Loss of income;
● Burial and funeral expenses;
● The value of household services; and
● Medical bills for the victim’s final illness or injury.
Just like it is difficult to put a value on a person’s life, so too is it difficult to put a value on what that person meant to his or her survivors. Yet, the courts do their best to quantify non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship. You may be able to recover compensation for the following types of damages in California:
● Loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, moral support, and guidance;
● Loss of sexual intimacy; and
● The victim’s pain and suffering prior to death.
Unlike many other states, California does not place caps on damages in wrongful death claims, unless the wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice. If medical malpractice was the cause of death, your non-economic damages would be capped at $250,000 (Cal. Civ. Code § 3333.1).
Recent Wrongful Death Verdicts
Because of the many unique factors that go into calculating a wrongful death settlement, there is no “average.” That said, some verdicts can be pretty outstanding. Here are examples of three times juries shocked the state with sky-high numbers:
● A 13-year-old girl was awarded $150 million after she was forced to watch her family burn to death on a freeway in Southern California;
● A jury awarded $950,000 to the parents of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after being bullied by years with no intervention on the school’s behalf; and
● The city of Hayward and the family members of a young man who was shot by police came to a settlement of $500,000.
A Strong Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help Maximize Your Settlement
No amount of money in the world can restore the life of a loved one, but it can help ease the financial burden created by his or her absence. If you are forced to cope with life without the love, companionship, and support of a deceased loved one, and if said loved one’s death was caused by another person’s negligence, retain the help of an experienced Orange County wrongful death lawyer. The right lawyer can help maximize your settlement and ensure that you are justly compensated for your loss. Contact RMD Law today to schedule your free consultation.