A new change would significantly affect the types of damages recovered in survival cases and wrongful death claims in California. The amendments to the legislation could result in a significant rise in the amount of money that can be recovered when someone is killed due to someone else's negligence or wrongful actions.

That said, here's a quick guide on those changes, which will be important to our prescreened California Personal Injury Attorneys and their clients.

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California Survival Actions And Wrongful Death In 2022

The personal representative or successor with interest in the deceased person's estate could bring a survival action to recover the types of damages that the deceased may have sought in a personal injury claim if they had lived.

On the other hand, wrongful death claims are filed by the surviving family members of deceased victims to obtain compensation for the losses they have experienced as a result of their loved ones' deaths. The changes in the legislation impact the types of damages that can be recovered in survival proceedings brought by the estate on behalf of the heirs.

The Law's Background

If a victim dies, their ability to bring a negligence claim for injuries sustained as a result of the actions of others does not go away. When persons were killed due to the irresponsible or wrongful acts of others in the past, estates and families had no legal recourse, even if the dead would have been able to recover damages through a personal injury case if they had lived.

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The California Legislature recognized that such a result was unjust and created legislation allowing the victim's estate to seek reparations for the victim's losses before succumbing to their injuries. In addition, wrongful death legislation was also enacted, allowing some surviving family members to seek compensation for losses incurred due to the defendant's actions.

However, in a survival case, the potential damages were previously restricted to the losses the decedent suffered before their death, as well as any punitive damages they may have won if they had lived and filed a personal injury claim.

These limits are outlined in Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 377.34, and they prevent the personal representative or successor in interest from recovering damages for non-economic losses experienced by the deceased individual before their death.

This means that estates cannot be compensated for any pain and suffering or disfigurement incurred by the deceased person between the period of their injuries and the time of their death. Unfortunately, California was one of the few states that did not enable estates to recover non-economic damages until Senate Bill 447 was passed.

Of course, everyone's case is different. To know how these changes can directly affect your claim, consult with a prescreened California Wrongful Death Attorney to help you.

How Does The Changes Impact The Laws In California?

SB 447 may have an influence on California wrongful death claims. The estate, representatives, and heirs of a deceased victim may be eligible to recover damages for the deceased victim's pain and suffering in addition to any other losses. This might result in a significant rise in prospective plaintiff verdicts between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2026.

In many wrongful death instances, the estate launches survival actions while the victim's family files a separate wrongful death claim. The estate can seek damages for the losses the victim could have pursued if they had lived, and family members can seek damages for the losses they have incurred from their loved one's death.

Damages paid into the estate and passed on to the heirs are recovered through survival actions. Surviving family members who win wrongful death claims are reimbursed directly for their losses. The overall compensation might be significantly enhanced by allowing plaintiffs to claim damages for the victim's non-economic losses.

That's why it's important that you consult with a California Personal Injury Attorney to get the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.

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Over the next four years, wrongful death verdicts are expected to be significantly higher than in the past. If insurance firms are obliged to pay more significant claims, some may try to pass some additional costs on to their customers by raising premiums. In addition, families and estates of those who died due to others' unjust or negligent activities may be entitled to obtain total compensation for all losses caused by the defendants' actions, allowing them to be made whole.

California was one of just a few states that disallowed the recovery of non-economic losses incurred by the decedents before their deaths until this amendment. As a result of this legislation, California has joined the majority of states that already allow surviving family members or estates to claim such damages.

It's unknown whether these modifications will be allowed to expire, be extended, or become permanent. However, if they are made permanent, the surviving family members and estates of those who have been killed will be able to fully recover any losses sustained by both them and the victims as a result of the defendants' acts.

In this way, surviving family members and heirs of a deceased negligence victim may be better able to hold a defendant entirely responsible for their acts while also obtaining the compensation they are entitled to.

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