Wrongful Death of a Minor in California

Wrongful Death of a Minor in California

Wrongful Death of a Minor in California

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. The loss of a child is undoubtedly the saddest and most heartbreaking event that a parent can face, particularly if the child died a wrongful death. Understanding how the wrongful death of a child is handled differently than that of an adult is important when pursuing financial compensation.

When an Adult Dies Because of a Wrongful Death

Calculations for financial compensation for the loss of an adult family member through a wrongful death claim include the following considerations:

  • Earning potential: This is calculated using a formula and depends on the individual’s job, education and earnings, as well as their age and life expectancy, had the person lived.
  • Dependents: Obviously, the number of dependents who relied on the decedent for their financial and other support is important when determining compensation. An individual with a spouse and no children would receive much less than someone who was married and had three or four children to support.
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of parental guidance, training, and care
  • Household services: These are things that the decedent did around the home, which may include lawn care, taking out the trash, child care, cooking, etc.
  • Loss of companionship and consortium: These damages include the loss of relationship and love between individuals. Some of the areas looked at to decide compensation include the closeness of the relationship between the individuals, affection, living arrangement and what common interests the two had and things they did together.
  • Medical expenses: These may be awarded if the decedent lived for a time before expiring and are recovered through a survival action.

In What Areas Can a Wrongful Death Be Claimed for a Child?

All wrongful deaths are those in which the death was caused by the negligent actions of another individual or entity. These include the following:

  • Car accident or those caused by other types of vehicles: In a motor vehicle accident, it must be proven that the individual who caused the death of the child was driving in a manner inconsistent with what a normal driver would do. These can include drunk drivers, speeders, reckless drivers or other factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk driving contributed to more than 10,000 deaths in 2015.
  • Medical malpractice: This area not only includes improper care by a physician but wrong prescriptions or dosages by a pharmacist, hospital negligence and others.
  • Child neglect or abuse. This may be because of a family member, home caretaker, nursery school or other person or entity.
  • Product liability: Manufacturers and any entity along the manufacturing/sales line may be responsible for the wrongful death of a child. Some examples include improperly designed car seats, cribs, furniture that falls on a child or dangerous toys.
  • Premises liability: Premises liability includes any wrongful death that occurs at a private residence or public site, including bounce houses, swimming pools, amusement parks or caused by unrepaired dangers in other places.
  • Dog bites: Although dog bites that result in fatalities are fortunately rare, they do occur. A wrongful death occurs because the owner of the animal was negligent in allowing the dog to attack.
  • Intentional acts: An intentional act may include manslaughter or murder.

Recoverable Damages in a Child’s Wrongful Death

Because California law states that a wrongful death claim cannot be placed for an unborn child, financial compensation is not possible in the event the child is a fetus. Comparative fault, since California is a comparative fault state, may affect the amount of compensation awarded. For children, compensation is difficult to assess but may include:

  • Earning potential: Because a child has not completed his or her education and is not working, this amount may be small. If the child was older and employed, this is taken into consideration.
  • Expenses directly related to the child’s death: These can include medical expenses, including hospital bills, and the funeral and burial expenses.
  • Loss of consortium: As with an adult, loss of consortium includes the loss of affection and love of the child for the parents.

Related Article by Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer Ed Smith

Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to anyone who has lost a child, even more so if it was through someone’s negligence. If you have suffered a loss, I am here to offer my compassionate, friendly advice free of charge. Phone (916) 921-6400 or long-distance at (800) 404-5400 for help. I also have a contact form located at for your convenience.

Client reviews of my legal practice and list of some former cases can be viewed at:

I am a California member of Million Dollar Advocates.

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