California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 447 on October 1st, 2021. This bill, proposed by State Senator John Laird (D), is now an amendment to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.34 and permits the claimants of wrongful death in California to receive damages for the deceased’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement.
What is the Existing Law?
Before the amendment, the law under the current California legal scheme stated that when a person passed away due to an injury by a tortfeasor, the deceased’s successors/heirs could file a survival lawsuit. In this survival lawsuit, they would be able to receive damages for economic losses up to the time of death.
Economic losses are monetary losses, including doctor’s fees, hospital bills, medication bills, and wages lost after the injury until death. It would also comprise any penalties or damages the deceased would have received if they had survived. However, an individual would receive no compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. (1)
What are the New Changes?
Following the Senate Bill 447, the decedent’s successors can receive economic and non-economic damages. The concept of monetary damages is the same as before. However, the survival lawsuit file can also include damages for pain, suffering, and any disfigurement resulting from the injury caused by the person who committed the tort.
Who is the Bill Applicable Upon?
This bill applies to all wrongful death complaints filed between 1st January 2022 and 1st January 2026. It will also apply to any existing criminal death cases. A proposal for trial preference under California Code of Civil Procedure section 36 had been granted in a personal injury lawsuit before the plaintiff of the
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