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Damages In A Wrongful Death Case

Posted on April 30, 2024

Wrongful Death

In a wrongful death case, damages refer to the monetary compensation awarded to the surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased individual as a result of their death caused by the negligence, misconduct, or intentional actions of another party. These damages are intended to provide financial support, compensate for losses, and acknowledge the pain and suffering endured by the survivors due to the wrongful death of their loved one.

1. Economic Damages:

Economic damages are intended to compensate the surviving family members for the financial losses resulting from the death of their loved one. These damages may include:

  • Loss of Financial Support: This includes the income, wages, and financial contributions that the deceased would have provided to their family members had they not died prematurely.
  • Loss of Benefits: Survivors may be entitled to compensation for the loss of benefits, such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and pension payments, that the deceased would have received.
  • Medical Expenses: The costs of medical treatment and care incurred by the deceased prior to their death may be included in economic damages.

2. Non-Economic Damages:

Non-economic damages are designed to compensate for the intangible losses and hardships experienced by the surviving family members as a result of the wrongful death. These damages may include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Survivors may be awarded compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the wrongful death of their loved one.
  • Loss of Companionship: This refers to the loss of the deceased’s love, care, companionship, guidance, and emotional support, which can be particularly significant for spouses, children, and dependent family members.
  • Loss of Consortium: Surviving spouses may be entitled to compensation for the loss of marital companionship, intimacy, and consortium resulting from the death of their partner.
  • Loss of Parental Guidance: Children who lose a parent may be awarded damages to compensate for the loss of parental guidance, nurturing, and mentorship.

3. Punitive Damages:

In cases involving egregious misconduct, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar misconduct in the future rather than compensate the survivors. However, punitive damages are relatively rare in wrongful death cases and are typically only awarded in cases involving extreme negligence or malice.

4. Factors Affecting Damages Determination:

Several factors influence the determination of damages in a wrongful death case, including:

  • Age and Health of the Deceased: The deceased’s age, health, life expectancy, and earning potential may impact the calculation of economic damages.
  • Relationship to the Deceased: The nature of the relationship between the surviving family members and the deceased, including marital status, dependency, and emotional ties, may affect the amount of damages awarded.
  • Financial Losses: The financial losses suffered by the survivors, including lost income, future earning capacity, and out-of-pocket expenses, are significant factors in determining economic damages.
  • Emotional Impact: The emotional impact of the wrongful death on the survivors, including grief, trauma, and mental health issues, is considered when awarding non-economic damages.
  • Defendant’s Conduct: The defendant’s degree of fault, culpability, and misconduct in causing the wrongful death may influence the determination of damages, particularly punitive damages.

Damages in a wrongful death case serve to compensate the surviving family members for their losses, both tangible and intangible, resulting from the death of their loved one. While no amount of money can fully compensate for the loss of a family member, damages provide financial support and acknowledgment of the survivors’ pain and suffering. Through a thorough examination of the economic and non-economic losses incurred and consideration of relevant factors, courts strive to ensure that damages awards are fair, just, and appropriate in wrongful death cases.

For assistance with a case like this, consider reaching out to a law firm like Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. to get assistance from a wrongful death lawyer.

Az: 480.418.9100
MO: 314.387.5900
AZ: 480.418.9100
MO: 314.387.5900