LEGAL DAMAGES: What do I need to know about a survivor's mental suffering in connection with a California wrongful death lawsuit?

Generally speaking, a qualified survivor may not recover for their own grief, sorrow, anguish, mental suffering, or emotions over the loss of their loved one in a California wrongful death lawsuit. Although these items are excluded from consideration in wrongful death claims, as a practical matter, these losses are often included as part of the loss of love, comfort, and companionship that is an allowable element of damages.  Please see my FAQ that discusses the loss of love, etc.

ONE EXCEPTION TO ABOVE RULE:  The only way mental suffering would be recoverable for the survivor under California law, is if the survivor was a witness to the fatal injuries of a close relative and thereby suffers what is called emotional distress. This type of legal claim is known as Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress under California law and it entails a deeper analysis.