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Court Awards $15 Million in Wrongful Death Case, Excludes Decedent Drug Use

The California Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of the surviving heir of two persons who died in a truck accident, confirming the jury’s award of $15 million in damages. An important question raised on appeal involved the trial court’s exclusion of evidence of the one of the decedent’s drug use at the time of the accident. The defendant trucking company contended that the decedent’s alleged drug use prevented her from noticing the truck, which contributed to her accident.

Court Disallows Evidence of Drug Influence in Court

In ruling to exclude evidence of methamphetamine influence, the trial court viewed the surveillance video and determined that the video footage did not show that the decedent was impulsive or took any risk-taking behavior. The decedent appeared to be grounded in reality.

The court said that assuming the decedent was under the influence of methamphetamine, the use or intoxication was not tied to any behavior that contributed to her accident. In not finding a causal connection between methamphetamine to the accident, the court confirmed the award of non-economic damages to the plaintiff.

Claiming Non-Economic Damages in Wrongful Death

Under California tort law, the surviving heirs of a person who was killed in an accident may be entitled to damages to compensate for their own pecuniary loss such as:

  • Loss of financial support, advice, training, and provided by the decedent before the accident
  • Loss of companionship

The plaintiff, however, may not recover compensation for the grief and sorrow that they experienced as a result of the death of the loved one.

In setting a value for the loss of society and affection, factors such as the closeness of the family unit, the depth of their love and affection, and the character of the deceased are important.

If you lost a loved one in an accident, it’s important to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney immediately. Your personal injury attorney can evaluate your case, sort potential negligence or fault issues, and fight for your rights before a jury if necessary.

In San Andreas, Calaveras County, and other cities in Northern California, the Redkey Gordon Law Office has more than 25 years of combined wrongful death experience, helping clients recover compensation that they legally deserve. We also handle other types of Stockton personal injury cases such as pedestrian accidents, auto accidents, truck accidents, brain injury, and dog bites.

We welcome your call to us today at (209) 267-1685 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.