Wrongful Death Damages in California

The death of a loved one is of the most difficult trials any of us will have to endure.  There are no words to describe the pain of loss that you’re currently enduring.

In additional to dealing with the extreme emotional toll, you might also have to deal with the stress and financial burden of planning a funeral or paying medical expenses. If someone else caused the death of your loved one, you might be able to seek restitution from the party at fault.

Wrongful Death Damages in California

Although you’re undoubtedly struggling, speaking with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible is important to preserve your rights to hold the other party accountable.

Wells Call is here to help you through these difficult times.  We offer free consultations so that you can speak with actual attorney about your situation.  We will put together a plan of action and do all the heavy lifting on your case so that properly respect the life of the loved one you lost.

Why Wells Call?

  • No Money Down. We work 100% on contingency, so if we don’t win, then your case is free.
  • Investigative Process. As soon as we take your case, we will handle the costly process of hiring private investigators or engineers to gather the evidence we need to win your case. We may also need to hire re-construction experts to create demonstrative evidence on why the other party is at fault. In addition, your case may require significant legal research or other expert witnesses to properly build your case. We eliminate added stress by handling every aspect and cost of the investigative process.
  • Half a billion recovered. Since 1984, we’ve recovered well over half a billion for our clients in California. We won’t stop until we get the best settlement possible for you.
  • Work with an actual attorney. An actual, local attorney will handle your case and be there for you every step of the way.

Wrongful Death Damages in California

Although no amount of money will ever bring your loved one back, we will hold the responsible party accountable to the fullest extent of the law. It may seem odd to pursue financial remedies, but unfortunately, the only way that many insurance companies or business learn to change their behavior is by hitting them in their pocketbook.

Many people wonder ‘what am I entitled to recover in a wrongful death case?’ Typically, you may seek wrongful death damages for:

  • Financial income or support that the deceased would have earned
  • Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses
  • Medical Expenses
  • Reasonable value of loss of household services
  • Loss of love, emotional support, companionship, care, education, sexual relations

However, it is important to note that if your case went to trial, a jury would not be allowed to consider your grief or anguish, or financial situation at the time of your loved one’s death.

Requirements for Wrongful Death Damages in California


Only certain individuals will have the right to seek damages from a responsible party. Only individuals who have ‘standing’ will be able to seek damages in a wrongful death case.  ‘Standing’ is a legal term that means you have enough case to be able to ‘stand’ before a court and advocate your injury.

In California, you typically must be related to the one you lost.  For example, you typically must be a surviving spouse, partner, child, or a relative that would be entitled to inherit property from the deceased.  If you relied on the deceased for financial support, you may also have standing.

By speaking with a wrongful death attorney at Wells Call, you’ll be able to determine who has standing for the loss of your loved one.


The term ‘negligence’ is used a lot in the legal world.  It essentially means that someone acted, or failed to act, in a way that was reasonably safe.  Volumes have been written on the topic of negligence, but it simply means that someone did something, or didn’t do something in a safe manner.

If this negligence was a substantial factor in causing the loss of your loved one, then you will probably be able to seek damages from the responsible party.  An experienced attorney at Wells Call will be able to perform the research and investigation necessary to document the responsible party’s negligence.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

Typically, most wrongful death cases occur as the result of:

  • Auto, truck or motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Defective products
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Slip and Fall or unsafe property
  • Death in the workplace or while on the job

CACI Wrongful Death

If you searched for some combination of ‘CACI’ and ‘wrongful death,’ then you’re probably looking for the California Civil Injury Instructions (CACI) regarding a wrongful death matter.

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to damages that can be reasonable estimated or calculated as you’ll see below. CACI Section 3921 provides the following in economic damages (note – decedentis the person who wrongfully passed away and plaintiffis a person with standing, seeking damages):

  • The financial support, if any, that [name of decedent] would have contributed to the family during either the life expectancy that [name of decedent] had before [his/her] death or the life expectancy of [name of plaintiff], whichever is shorter;
  • The loss of gifts or benefit that [name of plaintiff] would have expected to receive from [name of decedent];
  • Funeral and burial expenses; and
  • The reasonable value of household services that [name of decedent] would have provided

These damages are more objective and can be reasonably estimated via damage models and net-present value calculations.  If those terms don’t make sense to you, don’t worry, you’re attorney should know what they mean.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are much more subjective and can vary greatly depending on the relationship you had with the deceased, how the person died, their age and health, how many children they left behind, if they had a spouse, and if the case goes to trial, the jury. CACI Section 3921 provides the following in non-economic damages:

  • The loss of [name of decedent]’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support
  • The loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations
  • The loss of [name of decedent]’s training and guidance.

The instructions also state “No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of non-economic damages. You must use your judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and your common sense.”Juries can be wildcards and decide to award very generously or not so generously.

What Are the Steps in a Wrongful Death Case?

After we’ve taken your case typically, we proceed as follows:

Investigative process

We want to take care of this right away so that evidence is not lost or destroyed. We may need to hire outside experts or consultants to assist in the investigation.

We also like to create a video documenting the relationship that you had with the loved one you lost.  This can be as simple as a photo montage or could include yourself, and others, speaking about the deceased.

Document & Evidence Gathering

This involves us getting all relevant information from all the parties involved.  Once we have gathered all the available evidence, and have processed who we believe are at fault, we’ll sort through it and prepare what we call a ‘demand package.’

Formal Demand

We’ll make a formal demand by presenting the evidence to the party or parties we feel are responsible. If we can negotiate a settlement at you feel is fair, then we will.  If we cannot, then the next step is litigation.

Lawsuit & Trial.

If we need to litigate and proceed to a jury trial, we will aggressively represent you and make sure that your voice is heard.

Most of our research and effort will go into creating legal arguments that demonstrate why the other party is responsible. Sometimes, this is very straight forward, but many times this requires a fair amount of effort.

Hire an Attorney for Help With Your California Wrongful Death Damages

As you can see, wrongful death matters can be extremely complex and difficult to navigate.  If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, please don’t try to fight alone.  Hire a local, experienced attorney that will help you get the best result possible. Call us at 707-426-5300 or contact us online.


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