What Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Case?

 

The death of a loved one can cause emotional stress and financial hardships for family members.  It is important to understand the a wrongful death case is and the different categories of compensation available if you have a successful lawsuit.

What is a wrongful death case?

A “wrongful death” case is a civil action brought by the survivors –or estate—of a person who died due to the negligence or intentional actions of another.  A family member or personal representative of the deceased is usually able to file the suit and needs to be filed within 3 years.

Two categories of damages in a wrongful death case.

  1. This category permits recovery of damages experienced by the deceased from the moment of the negligent act causing death, until the time of the decedent’s death.  Medical expenses, the deceased’s person’s mental and physical pain and suffering, the deceased’s lost wages and funeral and burial expenses are types of damages included in this category.
  2. This broad category is intended to compensate the family survivors for their financial loss.  Lost wages that would have been earned until the deceased’s anticipated retirement is the main aspect of these damages.  These damages are meant to replace the value of money the deceased would have earned if the incident never occurred.

Wrongful death cases can be awarded to:

  • Spouses- The surviving spouse can typically have a claim for lost companionship and emotional trauma.
  • Children- Minor children can be awarded damages for lost benefits of their relationship including comfort and support.
  • Parents- Parents of a minor child can recover damages for their emotional trauma and lost relationship with the child.

In a wrongful death case punitive damages can be awarded are designed to punish the defendant and prevent similar behavior in the future.