Stockton Wrongful Death Lawyer

Written by: Steven L. Brown

Girl photoIt is devastating when a family member suddenly dies without warning but even more so when someone you care deeply about dies due to someone else’s careless negligence. Wrongful deaths in Stockton, CA are taken seriously by the Courts, and a personal injury attorney can help surviving members receive appropriate compensation and hold the responsible individuals accountable. This type of personal injury action differs from other personal injury actions because the damages are unique in death cases, such as burial and funeral costs and loss of the relationship of the decedent, called consortium.  If you believe that your family member passed away due to the fault of someone else, you need to speak with a lawyer at Brown & Gessell, a Stockton, CA personal injury firm. They can provide guidance on how to proceed with a wrongful death claim against the responsible person or company.

Which Family Members Can Receive Wrongful Death Damages?

In Stockton, CA, only specific people are allowed by law to file a wrongful death claim.  This includes the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and grandchildren. If there is no one surviving the victim or anyone that is a descendent of them, then it can go to anyone entitled to the property by intestate succession, which is set by statute. Those individuals could include the parents and the siblings of the deceased. Also, the law provides that if someone can prove they are financially dependent upon the deceased, they can file a lawsuit. This includes a putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, the deceased’s stepchildren, legal guardians, and parents. 

Does the Person Responsible Get in Trouble?

The person who caused the wrongful death can not only be sued but also face criminal charges. This is only if their liability for the death can be proved, they are shown to be criminally culpable, and their actions are directly tied to the deceased’s death. Criminal charges occur if the person responsible had intentionally caused the decedent’s death or they were breaking a law in some way that resulted in the victim’s demise. Here are some examples in which the other party may be subjected to criminal charges:

Drunk Driving

The defendant was under the influence while driving. When a driver is grossly negligent and gets behind the wheel, they put others’ lives at risk. They can not only be required to restore the victim but will also be punished in court for committing a crime.

Fraud and Medical Malpractice

If a doctor was grossly negligent by ignoring important standards required of practicing physicians, they can be held accountable.  If fraud was involved or an intentional act, they can be held accountable both civilly and criminally. 


When the decedent passes away because a person attacked them, this would be an intentional wrongful death. Even if the victim got into a fight with the other party, the person who defends themselves can be criminally charged in court unless they acted in self-defense.

What Damages Can The Surviving Family Members Claim?

You would be able to claim both economic and non-economic damages in your wrongful death case. Wrongful Death damages may include lost wages, medical bills, loss of future income, property damage, pain and suffering, and more.  A wrongful death damage may include an action on behalf of the decedent (an Survivor Action) and the surviving heirs (Wrongful Death).   

Medical Expenses 

Before the decedent passed away, they may have been at a hospital or treated for their injury. The damages for them may include emergency room treatment, medical monitoring, medical tests, surgery, prescription medicine, and other treatments. Any healthcare costs, such as physical therapy, psychiatry, or other treatments, can be included in the wrongful death settlement. 

Pain and Suffering

This is a non-economic personal injury that is provided as testimony by the surviving family members. You and other survivors may have observed the strife and suffering your loved ones endured before they passed away. With the help of your attorney, you can describe what the victim experienced and include the amount in the settlement. Your wrongful death attorney will estimate how much the decedent’s pain and suffering were based upon the severity of the personal injury. 

Lost Wages and Future Income

Lost wages include both past and future loss of decedent’s wages.  Any wages lost due to the decedent’s inability to return to work are recoverable by the heirs. This also includes the victim’s earning capacity if you and other survivors were dependents and relied on their income. Loss of earning capacity includes the expected earnings for the rest of the decedent’s life and is calculated based on industry standards by your wrongful death attorney. 

Property Damage

This can be included in the settlement if your loved one experienced property damage due to their wrongful death in Stockton, CA. For example, in the car, boat, motorcycle, bicycle collisions, the victim will have property damage of some kind. When insurance companies don’t fully cover the cost of a motor vehicle accident, your wrongful death lawyer can seek damages from the other party. 

Burial and Funeral Expenses

The cost of an unplanned funeral often burdens surviving family members. Funerals are expensive and usually average between $7,000 to $12,000. The basic fees include a casket, the headstone, embalming, and additional funeral preparations. You also have to pay for the event services, such as the viewing, transportation, and burial. Smaller items, such as flowers, pamphlets, and other event-related necessities, add to the price. Wrongful death settlement claims can include this total amount and help alleviate the hardship of an expensive funeral. 

Loss of Valuable Services

When your loved-one passes away, their presence is missed in numerous ways. You can lose their valuable services, such as help around the house.  This is called household services.  Additionally, you can claim loss of consortium, guardianship, mentorship, protection, and other aspects of the decedent’s beneficial relationship to you. This may be harder to calculate because these are non-economic damages, but you can do so with the help of a wrongful death attorney. 

Loss of Benefits

The victim may have left behind many benefits after passing away. This includes pension funds, life insurance, and other eligible investments that were stopped short due to the wrongful death. Your lawyer can organize these assets and include them in the total settlement amount. 

Other Factors

Each wrongful death case is unique and can have different settlement estimates. Your attorney may include factors such as their state of health, income, education, certifications, and age at the time of death. If there are dependents, your lawyer will take into consideration the dependents’ age and life circumstances. They will seek a settlement that provides for the concerns and the wellbeing of the dependents who were left behind. 

How Do Wrongful Death Lawyers Help?

As part of your wrongful death claim in Stockton, CA, your lawyer at Brown & Gessell will seek to prove that the other party is liable for your loved one’s death.  Your lawyer will collect evidence surrounding how the death occurred and the responsible party’s negligence. The attorney will have to show that the other party owed your family member a duty, breached that duty, caused an accident and that this accident resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one. 

How to Work With a Stockton, CA Wrongful Death Lawyer

When you need guidance during a time when your family may be grieving and financially stressed due to wrongful death, you can turn to a dedicated lawyer for help. Surviving members can claim wrongful death damages to help cover the cost of burial and funeral expenses. You don’t have to struggle alone paying for funeral bills that you are unprepared for and for which someone else is ultimately responsible. The remaining medical bills can also be a burden for the survivors. Your loved one’s wrongful death is not their fault, and the person responsible should be held responsible for their actions. If you believe that your family member passed away due to wrongful death, it is time to contact an attorney to explore your next steps. Contact Brown & Gessell for a free consultation.