What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the deceased was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant’s, and that the surviving dependents or beneficiaries children or family members) are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
What Are The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
Generally the death must have been caused, in whole or in part, by the conduct of the defendant. The defendant must be proven to be negligent for the victim’s death. Also, a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents are the only ones who can make a wrongful death claim.
Who Should Start the Investigation of a Potential Wrongful Death Claim?
Any person who believes he or she may be a survivor or beneficiary entitled to compensation because of a wrongful death has the right to consider starting the investigation of a potential claim.
What Kinds of Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The following damages may be recovered in a wrongful death action:
- Immediate expenses associated with the death (medical and funeral)
- Loss of victim’s anticipated earnings in the future until time of retirement or death (pension, medical coverage, etc.)
- Loss of care, protection, companionship to the survivors
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Punitive damages, if appropriate
When are Punitive Damages Available?
Punitive damages are awarded not to compensate the plaintiff, but to punish the defendant. As a result, punitive damages cannot be recovered unless it is proved that the defendant’s conduct, which caused the victim’s death, was intentional or malicious.
How Are Future Damages Calculated, and What is “Present Value”?
Many states have adopted life expectancy tables for use in calculating future losses. It is common to take the victim’s earnings at the time of their death and calculate the remaining years until retirement or expected death to figure future loss of earnings. Life expectancy table are also used to calculate loss of benefits, such as the amount of pension benefits, which would have been available, had the victim lived.