When a domestic partner, parent, spouse or child has been killed in an accident, the loss is sudden and devastating. In addition to the pain, grief and emotional loss, family members must deal with a future without their loved one.
The legal term “wrongful death” is used when someone causes the death of another person. The death may be caused by the actions of someone or by their failure to act (neglect). Wrongful death is a civil action rather than a criminal action. Since the person killed (decedent) cannot file suit or collect damages, it is the family or representatives of the estate that do so.
A defendant may be held responsible for the wrongful death of another if it can be proven that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of the victim’s death. It must be proven that the death would not have occurred but for the defendant’s act or that the defendant’s wrongful conduct contributed to the victim’s death.
Different states have different methods for deciding who may file a wrongful death suit and who may recover damages. Generally, it must be shown that the death was caused by another’s wrongful act; that the act was such that the decedent would have been due damages from the act; and that monetary damages did arise from the act. If these three criteria are met, it is possible that a wrongful death claim can be filed.
In a case of wrongful death, damages are assessed to compensate family members for their loss. There are many ways in which damages can be calculated. Since damages can be awarded in a number of areas, it is important to examine each one carefully.
The most obvious loss in a case of wrongful death is the actual expense occasioned by medical and death expenses. These are usually easy to determine.
Less obvious but equally important is the loss of future earnings and benefits, as well as the loss of companionship. These damages are more difficult to calculate and include anticipating the lifespan and earnings of the decedent, as well as the relationship to remaining family members.
Loss of companionship is very difficult to calculate since it is totally subjective and does not lend itself to empirical measurements. It is a measure of the emotional pain and suffering experienced by the survivors.
A final area of damages is punitive damages. This is an amount awarded to punish the person who caused the death, rather than to compensate for a specific loss. It can typically only be awarded when the action of the defendant was intentional or grossly negligent.
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If your family has suffered the loss of a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness or because of an accidental mishap, a medical disaster, a work-related injury, defective product, or other wrongful conduct, we are here to help you. Chami Law is fully committed to caring for the survivors of wrongful death victims. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation toll free at 888-384-7225 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.