Wrongful Death vs. Personal Injury
In a personal injury case, the victim seeks to recover compensation for the damages personal to him or her, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A wrongful death case, on the other hand, is brought by surviving family members to recover damages specific to their loss. Wrongful death damages include funeral and burial expenses, lost earnings the deceased would have provided to the household, loss of gifts or inheritance, and the monetary value of services the deceased provided to the household as a homemaker or caretaker of the children. Surviving family members can also recover noneconomic damages such as the loss of love and affection of the deceased, the loss of moral support and sexual intimacy.
California’s wrongful death law allows spouses, domestic partners and children to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no surviving spouse or child, surviving grandchildren may bring a claim. Minors, such as stepchildren, may sue if they were dependent on the deceased for half or more of their financial support. Parents, siblings and other relatives may also bring suit in some instances.