It is devastating to lose a family member, especially without warning, and even more so if their life was taken due to the negligence of another person. Wrongful death cases are viewed as serious incidents by the judicial system, and a lawyer can help surviving loved ones get the compensation they need while holding the individual or company responsible. Personal injury cases like these differ from others in that the damages are unique, and there is the added anguish of a person’s life being taken before their time.
In wrongful death cases, surviving relatives may be owed economic and non-economic damages. A judge or jury may award damages for the intangible loss and specific losses suffered by the family because of the unexpected death. Economic damages that may be claimed in a wrongful death case entail earnings and benefits the decedent would have contributed if they were alive, loss of inheritance or gifts that relatives would have incurred, value of household services the decedent would have offered, funeral and burial costs, and more. Other examples of potential economic damages include retirement savings, health insurance coverage, and wages expected over their lifetime. Less tangible, non-economic damages can have more value compared to economic damages. As a wrongful death lawyer families trust from Hayhurst Law PLLC has reviewed with clients, examples of non-economic damages are listed as follows:
- Loss of protection, advice, training, guidance, and nurturing from decedent
- Damages for survivor’s pain and suffering, or mental anguish
- Loss of consortium, society, love, and companionship from the decedent
Punitive damages may be awarded to further punish the defendant for their conduct. Some states do not have punitive damages available. Treble damages are equal to three times what the actual damages are, and may be recovered in cases of elder abuse and death in nursing homes. Calculating damages for wrongful death can be a complicated and sensitive task that is often fueled by immense grief and suffering. Family members may suspect that something was awry about the way their relative’s accident happened. It’s possible that someone else was at-fault, such as a reckless car driver, a negligent employer who didn’t provide a safe work environment, a medical professional who committed a tragic oversight which led to their patient’s death, and more.
If you have lost a loved one and think that you may have a wrongful death case, keep in mind that there is only a certain period of time to take legal action. Referred to as the “statute of limitations”, which varies by state, the general rule is that a suit must be filed within 1-2 years after the date of misconduct that led to the victim’s death or the date of discovery. Some family members may not feel ready to take on a legal proceeding while in such a deep state of grief. Others may be motivated to take action with a fervency, wanting to seek justice for the wrong that was done. As a lawyer from Hayhurst Law PLLC would agree with, both are normal responses. However, those who want to pursue legal action must not wait too long, as they could lose their chance at obtaining justice on behalf of their loved one taken too soon.