Wrongful Death Claims for Surviving Relatives

Relatives of people who died in accidents due to the negligence or recklessness of another individual can recover damages by filing wrongful death claims. Some of the specifics of wrongful death claims are outlined below.

Damages Covered by Wrongful Death Claims:

Economic Damages: loss of wage, loss of service, loss of financial support, hospital expense, and burial expense

Non-economic Damages: loss of guidance and care, loss of companionship, pain, and suffering


Immediate family members including spouse, children (even adopted ones), and parents of unmarried child can file wrongful death claims. Some states allow other family members such as brothers, sisters, and grandparents to file these claims. However, a person is not allowed by law to file wrongful death claims against another family member.

Statute of Limitations

In California, wrongful death claims should be filed within two years after a person dies due to negligence of another individual. Failing to meet this deadline may void such claims. However, some courts may extend this in special cases.

Amount of Compensation

The amount of claims will depend on the earning capacity, age, and dependents of a person who died due to negligence of another individual.

Usually, relatives of an elderly get smaller claims because the victim has diminished or no earning capacity. And because older people have grown-up children, it is deemed that no one is financially dependent on them.

When a child dies due to wrongful death, surviving relatives will also receive smaller claims because there is no loss of wages since the young victim has no earning capacity.

On the other hand, if a person dies at a working age, his dependents will receive bigger claims because there is a loss of future wage. Compensation will be higher if the victim has children who have lost parental guidance, care, love, and support.

In determining wrongful death claims, a court also considers the victim's health and the life expectancy of the victims and claimants. According to lawyers, involved parties usually hire actuaries and experts to determine the exact amount of claims.

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