California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult)
If you decide that [name of plaintiff] has proved [his/her] claim against [name of defendant] for the death of [name of decedent], you also must decide how much money will reasonably compensate [name of plaintiff] for the death of [name of decedent]. This compensation is called “damages.”
[Name of plaintiff] does not have to prove the exact amount of these damages. However, you must not speculate or guess in awarding damages.
The damages claimed by [name of plaintiff] fall into two categories called economic damages and noneconomic damages. You will be asked to state the two categories of damages separately on the verdict form.
[Name of plaintiff] claims the following economic damages:
1. The financial support, if any, that [name of decedent] would have contributed to the family during either the life expectancy that [name of decedent] had before [his/her] death or the life expectancy of [name of plaintiff], whichever is shorter;
2. The loss of gifts or benefits that [name of plaintiff] would have expected to receive from [name of decedent];
3. Funeral and burial expenses; and
4. The reasonable value of household services that [name of decedent] would have provided.
Your award of any future economic damages must be reduced to present cash value.
[Name of plaintiff] also claims the following noneconomic damages:
1. The loss of [name of decedent]’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support; [and]
[2. The loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations.]
[2. The loss of [name of decedent]’s training and guidance.]
No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of noneconomic damages. You must use your judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and your common sense. [Your award for noneconomic damages should not be reduced to present cash value.]
In determining [name of plaintiff]’s loss, do not consider:
1. [Name of plaintiff]’s grief, sorrow, or mental anguish;
2. [Name of decedent]’s pain and suffering; or
3. The poverty or wealth of [name of plaintiff].
In deciding a person’s life expectancy, you may consider, among other factors, the average life expectancy of a person of that age, as well as that person’s health, habits, activities, lifestyle, and occupation. According to [insert source of information], the average life expectancy of a [insert number]-year-old [male/female] is [insert number] years, and the average life expectancy of a [insert number]-year-old [male/female] is [insert number] years. This published information is evidence of how long a person is likely to live but is not conclusive. Some people live longer and others die sooner.
[In computing these damages, consider the losses suffered by all plaintiffs and return a verdict of a single amount for all plaintiffs. I will divide the amount [among/between] the plaintiffs.]
Directions for Use
One of the life-expectancy subjects in the second sentence of the second-to-last paragraph should be the decedent, and the other should be the plaintiff. This definition is intended to apply to the element of damages pertaining to the financial support that the decedent would have provided to the plaintiff.”
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