What does California law permit the family of child who has died to recover?
Unfortunately, the jury can't undo what the defendant has done. They can't bring the child back. All that a jury can do is send a message that something priceless was taken, and that there was tremendous value to what was destroyed. They send that message the only way they can - with a verdict for money damages. If a jury decides that a family member proves his or her claim against a negligent person or corporation for the death of a child, a jury must decide how much money will reasonably compensate the family member for the death of the child. This compensation is called 'damages.' The family member does not have to prove the exact amount of these damages. However, the jury must not speculate or guess in awarding damages. The damages claimed by the family member fall into two categories called economic damages and noneconomic damages. The jury will be asked to state the two categories of damages separately on the verdict form. A family member may claim the following economic damages: 1. The value of the financial support, if any, that the minor would have contributed to the family during either the life expectancy that minor had before his/her death or the life expectancy of the surviving family member, whichever is shorter; 2. The loss of gifts or benefits that the family member could have expected to receive from the minor child; 3. Funeral and burial expenses; and 4. The reasonable value of household services that the minor child would have provided. The jury's award of any future economic damages must be reduced to present cash value. The family member may also claim the following noneconomic damages: 1. The loss of the minor's love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support. No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of noneconomic damages. The jury must use their judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and their common sense. The award for noneconomic damages should not be reduced to present cash value. The jury is not permitted to include in its award any compensation for the following: 1. The family member's grief, sorrow, or mental anguish; or 2. The minor's pain and suffering. In computing these damages, the jury should deduct the present cash value of the probable costs of the minor's support and education. In deciding a person's life expectancy, the jury must consider, among other factors, that person's health, habits, activities, lifestyle, and occupation. Life expectancy tables are evidence of a person's life expectancy but are not conclusive. In computing these damages, the jury is to consider the losses suffered by all plaintiffs, meaning all surviving family members who have standing to bring a claim, and is charged by the court to return a verdict of a single amount for all plaintiffs. The judge will divide the amount among/between the plaintiffs. Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60 provides: A cause of action for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another may be asserted by any of the following persons or by the decedent's personal representative on their behalf: (a) The decedent's surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and issue of deceased children, or, if there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession. (b) Whether or not qualified under subdivision (a), if they were dependent on the decedent, the putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, or parents. As used in this subdivision, 'putative spouse' means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid. (c) A minor, whether or not qualified under subdivision (a) or (b), if, at the time of the decedent's death, the minor resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent's household and was dependent on the decedent for one-half or more of the minor's support. (d) This section applies to any cause of action arising on or after January 1, 1993. (e) The addition of this section by Chapter 178 of the Statutes of 1992 was not intended to adversely affect the standing of any party having standing under prior law, and the standing of parties governed by that version of this section as added by Chapter 178 of the Statutes of 1992 shall be the same as specified herein as amended by Chapter 563 of the Statutes of 1996. (f) For the purpose of this section, 'domestic partner' has the meaning provided in Section 297 of the Family Code. Code of Civil Procedure section 377.61 provides: 'In an action under this article, damages may be awarded that, under all the circumstances of the case, may be just, but may not include damages recoverable under Section 377.34. The court shall determine the respective rights in an award of the persons entitled to assert the cause of action. Please feel free to contact The Keane Law Firm now to go over this law with you if you feel you have a wrongful death claim for the loss of your child, or a child in your family. Together, we will do what we can to correct the injustice done to the child.