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Wrongful Death Actions in California

California Civil Code Section 377.60 provides a cause of action against an individual or entity who is responsible for the death of a person, often due to a car, truck or motorcycle accident. California imposes a very strict list of those individuals who have standing to bring a wrongful death claim, as not just anyone can bring such an action. See Section 377.60 for a list of individuals eligible to bring such an action. California law allows the victim’s claimant to seek both economic and non-economic damages (see How Prop 51 Impacts Your Personal Injury Claim for the difference). The economic damages a claimant can seek include lifetime gifts, benefits, financial support, burial expenses, and the reasonable value of household services the victim would have conferred onto the claimant. The determination of such amounts are comprised by multiplying the yearly value of such items (aside from burial expenses) multiplied by the number of years the victim (also called a “decedent”) was expected to live from the time of his or her death, or the number of years the claimant was expected to live from the time of the decedent’s death (whichever is shorter). The non-economic damages which the claimant can pursue in a wrongful death claim include, but are not limited to, the value placed on the loss of comfort, care, love, moral support, sexual relations, training and guidance the decedent would have conferred onto the claimant. There are no “set” amounts used to value each of these types of damages, and it is up to the accident attorney to make the proper arguments to the defendant, insurance company or jury so as to maximize these damages. See California Jury Instructions 3921 for a thorough reading on the nature and extent of what a claimant can pursue in a wrongful death claim. The death of a loved one due to the negligence of an at-fault party in a motorcycle accident, trucking (also known as a “big-rig”) accident, vehicle accident, pedestrian accident, or bicycle accident is devastating. While the causes of such accidents are completely avoidable, they occur, and unfortunately, too frequently (see Top Causes of Car, Truck & Motorcycle Accidentsand Top 4 CA Vehicle Code Violations Resulting in Injury Accidents). According to the state of California’s Traffic Safety Report Card, in 2010 2,715 individuals were killed on California’s roadways. If your loved one was killed due to the negligent acts of another, contact our wrongful death lawyer today for a free consultation.

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