As we have noted many times before on this blog, when a negligent driver injures another person, the injured can make a claim to recover their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. The damages in these cases can include the injured party's medical expenses and lost wages from the time her or she was unable to return to work, as well as less tangible damages such as pain and suffering.
In cases involving a fatal car accident, these issues are somewhat different. Family members of the victim my file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused their loved one's death.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the damages are those suffered by the victim's immediate family. California provides that family members may recover two types of damages, economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages include funeral expenses, the loss of income and gifts the victim would have provided over the course of a remaining lifetime, and other monetary losses. Noneconomic damages include less tangible losses, such as the loss of the loved one's companionship.
Many people are uncomfortable with these concepts. Certainly, no amount of money can take the place of a loved one. Still, the sudden loss of a loved one has very real effects on family members, and they deserve compensation when their damages are the result of another person's negligence.
These cases are emotionally sensitive and legally difficult. It's important for families to seek out help from an attorney with experience in personal injury and wrongful death.