Wrongful Death of an Adult

people and mourning concept – woman with red roses and coffin at funeral in church


Unfortunately, not everyone survives a motor vehicle collision. California law states that the loved ones of an adult killed in a motor vehicle collision can recover damages for that person’s death. These damages are called wrongful death damages.

Wrongful death means that the negligence of a driver killed someone else, such as another driver, or pedestrian. The person killed is referred to as the “decedent.”


A wrongful death claim can be made only by family members. As an example, the spouse and children of the decedent can make a claim. The parents can make a claim when the decedent died without a spouse
or children.


Wrongful death damages fall into two categories called economic and noneconomic damages. Economic losses include loss of financial support that the decedent would have contributed to the family during his work-life. The loss is the income the decedent would have provided to the family. Other economic losses include loss of gifts, funeral and burial expenses, and the reasonable value of services the decedent did around the house. As an example, if the decedent did all the yard work, the family would be entitled to the cost to hire someone to do the yard work. These damages tend to be easy to calculate.

Noneconomic losses include the loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, assistance, affection, and moral support. These damages are difficult to calculate. There is no fixed standard. The court uses its judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and common sense.


California’s statute of limitations is two years. The loved ones of the decedent must file a lawsuit no later than two years after the car collision.


If someone you loved suffered a wrongful death, schedule a free consultation.