Those who file wrongful death claims may receive one or more types of damages, which usually fall into two categories: damages the victim suffered before their death and those accrued by the plaintiff as a result of their loved one’s death. These may include both economic damages, which involve measurable losses, and non-economic damages, which refer to subjective losses the decedent and their loved ones experienced. The damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit vary based on the circumstances of the case and the extent of the individual’s losses.
Family members and estate representatives file wrongful death lawsuits when their loved one loses their life as the result of another person’s negligent behavior. Many situations could lead to a wrongful death case, which accounts for thousands of lives and millions of dollars in damages in the United States every year.
According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), more than 1 in 5 medical malpractice cases involve wrongful death, and these cases account for the most financially devastating for the decedent’s survivors. As one of the leading causes of preventable fatalities, car accidents commonly lead to wrongful death cases, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that over 40,000 fatalities occurred on American roadways in 2017 alone. A lawyer can help decedents loved ones determine if they can file a wrongful death claim for the damages caused by their loss.
Personal Injury Damages Owed to the Decedent
Many times, the individual who files the wrongful death claim will seek the damages that the decedent could have pursued had they survived the incident that led to their fatal injuries. These types of damages cover the damages that accrued between the time the incident that caused the injuries occurred and the time of the victim’s passing.
If the decedent received emergency medical care or incurred other healthcare expenses due to an accident or injury caused by someone else before their death, the wrongful death claim may include compensation for their bills.
Many times, victims of car accidents, medical malpractice, and other wrongful death cases miss time at work due to the extent of their injuries. Even after the decedent passes, their loved ones may qualify to receive compensation for the income the decedent would have received if they had the ability to work after the incident.
Pain and Suffering
Victims who survive injuries caused by personal negligence often sue for the physical, mental, and emotional trauma they experience as a result of the accident or injury. Those who file wrongful death suits for their cases may receive financial awards for their pain and suffering on their behalf.
Additional Damages Caused by the Loss of the Decedent
When a victim who suffered a personal injury due to another party’s negligence loses their life, their loved ones may qualify for the damages that accumulated after the decedent’s death. These may include economic damages as well as the mental and emotional anguish they suffered after their loss.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), funerals in the United States typically involve many individual services and costs. Caskets, for example, often range from $2,000 to $10,000. While the FTC encourages consumers to compare pricing at different funeral homes, families who have just lost a loved one may not have the emotional energy to devote to finding the best fiscal value, and funeral and burial expenses can add up quickly. As a result, wrongful death claims often include a request for the cost of laying the decedent to rest.
Loss of Future Wages
Some loved ones, particularly surviving spouses and children, seek compensation for the loss of the decedent’s future wages in a wrongful death suit. This type of award provides a means for loved ones who relied on the decedent for financial support.
Loss of Consortium
Certain states allow the plaintiff in a wrongful death case to claim loss of consortium, also known as loss of companionship. When an individual loses their spouse, especially at the hands of another person, they may experience severe emotional trauma. Financial awards can help them seek the resources they need for recovery.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Each state has their own laws as to who can file wrongful death claims. Most states allow either the executor of the decedent’s estate or a close relative to file for wrongful death, but some allow either party to sue. States also decide which family members, if any, have a right to file and who receives the damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit.
A Lawyer Can Help You Seek Damages in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to hold the liable party accountable for your financial damages. At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, our lawyers can help you determine if you have a case and seek fair compensation for your wrongful death claim. You do not owe us any fees unless we achieve financial awards in your favor. Contact a wrongful death attorney to speak with our legal team about your free case evaluation.