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Wrongful Death Case: Which Damages Can be Collected?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2015 | Articles

If an individual is killed as a result of the wrongful conduct, negligence or recklessness of another person or persons, their family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party that is responsible. The purpose for filing this form of litigation is typically to collect some manner of damages as compensation for their loved one’s death. In general, there are three types of damages that may be accessed by the survivors within wrongful death litigation, including economic, non-economic, and punitive.

Calculating damages properly is a complex process that requires a great deal of knowledge and experience. Usually, parties will utilize the help of experts such as actuaries and economists to access professional opinions regarding proper amounts of damages. Sometimes, these calculations can include not only the benefit and income that is earned outside of the home, but also the financial value of the care that is provided inside of the home by a parent who was also a homemaker.

For example, this would refer to someone who spent time looking after the children, cleaning the house, providing transportation, and childcare.

Economic Damages

The economic damages a family member claims in a wrongful death lawsuit include the financial contributions that the victim could have made to the survivors if they had not passed away. These contributions may include some of the following:

  •  The value of goods and services provided by the victim
  •  Loss of inheritance caused by untimely death
  •  Loss of pension plans, medical coverage and benefits
  •  Loss of expected earnings from the victim
  • Funeral and medical expenses connected to the untimely death

Non-Economic Damages

Although these damages are less tangible, they can often have more value than economic damages on the family and survivors of the wrongful death lawsuit. For example, non-economic damages might include:

  • The loss of the companionship and love of the deceased
  • The loss of consortium from a deceased spouse
  • The loss of protection, guidance, advice, and nurturing to children from the deceased
  • The damages for the mental anguish, suffering, and pain of the survivors

Punitive Damages

Generally, punitive damages are awarded as a method of punishing the defending party for particularly bad conduct. In many states, these particular damages are not available when it comes to wrongful death lawsuits, and they may not be recoverable against particular agencies, such as government parties. However, some damages may be recovered against nursing homes for the abuse of the elderly and wrongful death.

Furthermore, in some states, it is possible for survivors to recover interest on the damages they receive from the time that they were incurred all the way up to the moment when they are capable of being collected. In some cases, these survivors can even be reimbursed for the amount of money they spent on attorney costs and fees in filing the litigation.

The Time Limit for a Wrongful Death Claim

Every state will set its own statute of limitations in regards to wrongful death lawsuits. The general rule is that any wrongful death litigation must be filed within two years of the action that caused the death of the victim. However, special rules may apply to minors, who have two years from the date at which they reach their majority in order to file a lawsuit. Similarly, special rules often apply to cases involving individuals with mental disabilities and in cases which involve intentional or fraudulent acts.

The Right Kind of Law Firm

If you are concerned that your loved one’s death came as a result of someone else’s negligence or bad conduct, it is important to pick up professional help in gaining the compensation you deserve and making this situation right. For further assistance, contact the lawyers at Makarem & Associates via email: [email protected].