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What is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement in California?

Losing someone you care about is heartbreaking. Under California law (California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.30), eligible family members of the deceased victim can bring a wrongful death suit against the at-fault parties to get justice and economic support. During such a difficult time, you may want to know: How much compensation can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Unfortunately, this is a question without a simple answer. There is no real “average wrongful death settlement” because claims are valued on a case-by-case basis. Here, our Bay Area wrongful death lawyers explain the most important things you should know about how wrongful death compensation is determined in California.

Every Claim is Unique: Know What You Can Recover in California

In a California wrongful death claim, there are several different forms of damages/losses that can be recovered. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the case, plaintiffs may be entitled to seek a wrongful death settlement or verdict, which includes financial compensation for any or all of the following:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of income and financial support, including insurance coverage; and
  • Non-economic damages, including loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society and moral support.

Additional Challenge: No Fixed Standard for Non-Economic Damages

As stated in the California state jury instructions (CACI No. 3921), there is no single, fully objective formula for calculating non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim. Instead, the legal system instructs each jury member to “decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and your common sense.” As the standard requires individual judgment, it raises the importance of presenting a well-structured wrongful death claim, which is compelling and backed with supporting evidence. In crafting a wrongful death case, an attorney will help you document and demonstrate the full impact of the loss.

Insurance Companies Try to Resolve Wrongful Claims for Less

Most wrongful death claims are handled/defended by large insurance companies. Unfortunately, even when your family is dealing with such a tragic and heartbreaking loss, these corporations still try to pay out the absolute minimum amount possible. Insurers and defendants must be held accountable. Before you consider settling a wrongful death case, you should consult with an experienced legal professional. An attorney will have the knowledge and experience to help you understand the true value of your wrongful death case. Your family needs justice and financial support. Do not accept any less than you are owed under California law.

Contact Our San Francisco, CA Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our California wrongful death lawyers are skilled, passionate advocates for grieving families. If you have any questions about your legal rights, we are available to help. For a free, confidential case evaluation, please contact our law firm at 415-835-6777. With a main office in San Francisco, Oakland. San Jose, Palo Alto, San Mateo, Mountain View, Berkeley, San Leandro and Union City.