Product manufacturers are obligated to ensure that their products are considered safe from defects that result in injuries or deaths. When companies fail to uphold their duty to safety, consumers are exposed to the risk of injury or fatality while using the product. When death occurs due to the use of a defective product, survivors of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover monetary damages.
The following are the specific individuals are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in California:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse
- The deceased person’s domestic partner
- The deceased person’s children
- The deceased person’s “putative spouse” and children of the putative spouse (if they can demonstrate they were financially dependent on the deceased person)
- The deceased person’s stepchildren (if they can demonstrate they were financially dependent on the deceased person)
- The deceased person’s parents (if they can demonstrate they were financially dependent on the deceased person)
There are a variety of personal injury damages available in a wrongful death claim. The specific amounts involved depend on the facts of each particular case. Damages are generally divided based on whether they compensate the estate for losses corresponding with the death, or the surviving family members for the personal losses they suffered as a result of death.
The losses typically awarded to the estate include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Medical and hospital bills from the deceased individual’s final illness or injury
- Lost income, as well as potential income the deceased individual would reasonably have been expected to earn if he or she were alive.
The losses typically awarded to the surviving family member include:
- Loss of anticipated financial support
- The value of household services
- Loss of love, moral support, and guidance