Losing a loved one in death because of negligence or because of the willful act of another is a very painful thing. The law recognizes that the individual who caused the death bears some financial responsibility and therefore may award financial compensation to the family of the deceased individual.
Financial compensation that survivors receive varies from state to state. However, it usually fits into one of three categories. It can either be economic compensation, non-economic compensation, or punitive damages.
Any money spent by the family that the victim would have provided to the survivors had he or she not died are viewed as economic damages. This includes any expenses connected with the funeral and burial arrangements. The lost income of the victim, any health insurance benefits, pension plan, or retirement benefits that were lost would also be included in this group. An inheritance that would have been left to family members had the victim survived and the value of any goods or services the victim would have provided had they lived are also grouped into this category.
Because these damages cannot be easily quantified, it is difficult to give an exhaustive list of things that would or would not be considered non-economic damages. However, some basic things would be compensation for the emotional and mental anguish, pain, and suffering felt by the victims. This would also include compensation for the fact that the victim would no longer be there to care for the family, provide protection for the family, give guidance or training to the kids, and provide advice for family members.
Unlike economical and non-economic damages that have the purpose to compensate the victim, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant. Every state has different rules regarding the application of punitive damages. In most states, punitive damages cannot be collected from departments of government. Some states have a special sort of punitive damage called treble damages. These damages are recovered from nursing homes where abuse and unlawful death occurred. Treble damages could amount to three times the actual damages incurred.
Some states will allow the victim’s family to recover the money spent for attorney fees. Additionally, interest that would have been earned on the money recovered from the time the incident happened until the damages are paid may also be given to the victim’s family.
If a person thinks they have a valid wrongful death case to bring to court, they should speak with an attorney. An attorney is going to be able to provide balanced information pertaining to the laws of the state where the incident took place, time limits for filing wrongful death claims, and other documents and complexities associated with filing a wrongful death suit.
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to wrongful death, contact Bryan Caulfield today at 1-800-535-2529 for a free consultation.