The death of a loved one is a tragic and life-altering event. The tragedy is even greater when your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s reckless behavior. In these cases, families are left with more than grief. Often, they also struggle mentally and emotionally. On top of all that, many families who lose a loved one tragically also suffer financially.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is legally defined as the death of one person due to the carelessness or recklessness of someone else. A wrongful death may result from situations like:
- A drunk driving strikes your loved one’s vehicle and kills him or her.
- A driver speeding hits your loved one as he walks or bicycles near the road.
- A surgeon makes a mistake while operating and the patient dies.
- A doctor fails to diagnose a complication of pregnancy, and as a result, the mother or child dies.
These are just a few examples of situations that could be classified as wrongful death. There are many other possible situations, including criminal acts and defective products.
What Damages can be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you have talked to a personal injury attorney and your case is, in fact, a wrongful death case, then you may be able to file a wrongful death claim, or lawsuit, against the person(s) responsible for your loved one’s death. A wrongful death claim helps hold the responsible party accountable and offers financial compensation to the victim’s family.
In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family can pursue compensation, or damages, for the following:
Economic damages are damages easily quantified, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral or burial costs
- Loss of income into the household
- Loss of inheritance
Non-economic damages are damages that are not so easily quantified but are equally as relevant to the case. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering of the victim before his or her death
- Mental anguish experienced by surviving family members
- Loss of care and support
- Loss of love and comfort
If your loved one’s death was the result of extreme negligence or malice, you may be able to pursue punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the person responsible for your loved one’s death, as well as deter others from doing similar behaviors.
Who is Eligible for Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death claim, certain surviving family members can pursue damages. Most often, this includes:
There are cases, however, where other surviving family members or estate executors can file a claim. Ultimately, who can file a claim will depend on the circumstances of the case and applicable state laws.
How to Learn More about a Wrongful Death Claim
As you can see, there are many aspects to wrongful death claims. These claims are designed to help the family of victims maintain stability and obtain compensation for their losses. Because the rules for wrongful death claims vary by state, it is important to work with a wrongful death attorney when considering this type of legal action.