The death of a person can be devastating for all surviving family members. The pain can be greater if the death was caused due to the negligent or willful actions of another person. In legal terminology, the death of a person due to the action of another is known as wrongful death.
Surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to get compensation from the guilty party. They can file a lawsuit to seek compensation from the defendant for financial losses and mental pain caused due to the untimely death of a person.
What is a Wrongful Death?
States have varying definitions of wrongful death. Though, it can be broadly defined as the death of a person due to the negligent, careless, unskillful, or wrongful actions of another.
The wrongful death of a person can be due to the action of another person or an agent of the person. It can also be due to unsafe conditions of the street railway, railroad, or machinery under the operation of the person.
Surviving family members can claim economic and non-economic damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death attorney can help in determining the amount that must be sought from the guilty party.
Economic damages are financial losses that can be calculated. Family members of the deceased person can seek compensation for monetary losses due to the wrongful death of a loved one. Here are the different types of economic damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death case.
Loss of Income
Family members can file a claim for the loss of income due to the wrongful death of a person. They can seek compensation for the loss of income that the deceased could have provided if alive.
Plaintiffs of a wrongful death case can seek compensation for medical expenses incurred in treating the person until their untimely demise. All medical expenses including the cost of surgeries and medications can be claimed from the party responsible for the wrongful death.
State laws also allow the victims to seek compensation for counseling expenses. Family members sometimes hire a psychologist as a means to overcome emotional pain caused by the loss of a loved one. They can claim compensation for the fees paid to the psychologist for counseling sessions for overcoming the grief due to their loss.
Family members of the deceased person can also claim compensation for the funeral expenses of the deceased person. The close family members can seek compensation for the coroner’s fees, casket, flowers, and other expenses related to burying the deceased person.
Non-economic damages on the other hand are difficult to calculate. The damages cannot easily be identified in monetary terms. The compensation for non-economic damages is often a contentious issue in a wrongful death case. An experienced wrongful death attorney can assist in seeking fair compensation for non-economic damages.
Most state laws also allow the surviving family members to claim compensation for the psychological and mental anguish. The laws allow persons to seek compensation for emotional distress felt due to the death of a loved one person.
Loss of Camaraderie
Loss of camaraderie or companionship is also a type of non-economic damage that can be claimed by the victim. Family members particularly spouses and children feel great pain due to the loss of companionship. State laws allow victims to seek damages for the loss of companionship due to the wrongful death of a loved one.
Punitive damages are not awarded to compensate the victims for the losses. Also known as exemplary damages, the damages are awarded when the court wants to punish the victim for deliberate and violent action that resulted in the wrongful death of a person.
How Damages for Wrongful Death Damages are Calculated?
Damages for wrongful death are calculated using different methods. Economic damages are easy to calculate and identify. For instance, loss of income can be calculated by multiplying the average annual income along with that the deceased person could have earned over their lifetime with the expected lifespan.
Non-economic damages are subjective. They are generally calculated using multiple methods. The damages are determined by multiplying the economic damages with a multiple of 2 or 3. It is estimated rather than an accurate figure for the mental anguish and psychological pain suffered due to the loss of a loved one.
Who can Claim Wrongful Death Damages?
Wrongful death damages can have multiple plaintiffs. Generally, a wrongful death case is filed by the executor of the deceased person’s estate. The plaintiffs or people mentioned in the lawsuit include the following persons.
- Legal partners
- Legally adopted children
Any close blood relative or legally recognized close relative can claim wrongful death damages. They can seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses. The damages, if awarded by the court, do not go through the court but paid directly to the family members.
How Wrongful Death Damages Different from Survival Action Damages?
Family members of a deceased person can claim both wrongful death and survival action claim. Wrongful death damages are compensation for losses incurred due to the death of a loved one. In contrast, survival action damages are monetary claims that the surviving family members could have had in case the deceased person was alive.
The compensation for survival action damages includes wealth the deceased person could have saved if he would have lived according to the normal life expectancy. Moreover, the family members of the deceased person can claim retirement income from the guilty party.
Is There Any Time Limit for Claiming Wrongful Death Damages?
State laws regarding the time limit for claiming wrongful death damages differ. The limit for filing a lawsuit to claim wrongful death damages is mentioned in the statute of limitation. The timelimit for claiming damages is typically two to four years. A claim for wrongful death damages should be made within the period mentioned in the statute of limitation; otherwise, the family members cannot seek damages in a wrongful death case.
Rasansky Law Firm knows about the complexity involved in seeking damages in a wrongful death case. If you want to know more about damages you can claim in a wrongful death case, call our wrongful death attorneys today.