Following the unexpected death of a loved one, there is no end to the trauma and emotional turmoil experienced by friends and family members. California courts do have methodologies for quantifying the pain, trauma, loss of companionship and other damages experienced by close family members so that financial damages can be pursued. However, not everyone has the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim when a loved one dies.
In most situations, the only people who can pursue such damages are children, spouses, and parents. Minor children will usually have viable wrongful death claims when their parent or parents are killed due to negligence. Those claims have to do with the child’s relationship with the mother or father, and the loss of parental guidance and comfort the child would have received from the relationship during his or her formative years. In some cases, lost future inheritance could also be a potential damage category in these claims.
Spousal wrongful death claims relate to the loss of consortium and loss of companionship. Spouses may also try to seek damages relating to the loss of family income, loss of future earnings and loss of inheritance.
Finally, parents whose minor children are killed due to negligence will be able to pursue claims regarding the emotional suffering triggered by the loss of their child. However, it is rare that parents of adult children can pursue such wrongful death claims.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, we represent California parents, children, and spouses in wrongful death claims. In cases where a loved one is killed due to another party’s negligence, the negligent party can be held liable in court for that loss. Still, we are fully aware that the decision to pursue such claims is a personal one and, unfortunately, no amount of money will ever reverse such an unfortunate loss.