411: Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
“Wrongful death” sounds like an odd – redundant – phrase to most people (and with good reason). Why qualify the word “death” with a variant of the word “wrong?” Isn’t death always “wrong” in one way or another? Well, in the realm of the legal system, a “wrongful death” case is an instance in which damages are sought against an individual or other type of party for causing a death. Essentially, in a wrongful death case, the death was not caused by natural causes or a pure accident—nor was the result of homicide. Wrongful death cases stem from someone, or some party, acting in a negligent fashion, such negligence leading to the death of another. This type of death-causing negligence could come in the form of reckless driving, malpractice by a doctor, etc.
In the aftermath of losing a loved one, one’s entire world is altered. In the midst of putting that world back together, one of the steps – if the loved one suffered a wrongful death – is talking to a personal injury attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg, about seeking damages against the liable party. Will recovering financial damages from the party whose negligence led to the death of your loved one fully replace the void in your life, left by the absence of the loved one? Of course not! In no way do we – or any other rational individual – try to suggest that money – any amount of money – can ever replace the presence of a loved one. However, seeking the damages you are entitled to can certainly mitigate the amount of suffering you need to endure in the process of mourning and continuing your life after the loss of a loved one.
Damages can be recovered based on a variety of considerations, some of which may be more obvious than others. Let’s start with the more commonly recognized areas from which damages can be recovered: medical bills and funeral/burial costs. Obviously, if it is proven that someone or some party acted in such a negligent manner than their actions led to the wrongful death of another, the culpable party can be liable for covering the costs of the medical bills and the funeral/burial costs. Why should the family, who just lost a victim due to the wrongdoing of another, have to bare the brunt of the cost of the necessary expenditures associated with a relative’s death? Hospital bills, burial plots, funeral processions; all of these can take quite a toll on a checkbook, and financing the postmortem requirements of a loved one should not be something that a loved one in mourning need worry about as they grapple with their unfortunate circumstances.
Next, let’s discuss lost income. Let’s say the person who died a “wrongful death” was the primary breadwinner in the family? With that person no longer generating income for the household, the livelihood of everyone dependent on that income is jeopardized. Who will pay for the food? The mortgage? The car payments? The tuition bills? The electricity? All of these are financial nuisances and burdens that loved ones shouldn’t have to worry about – or pay for! – if their loved one was taken from them simply due to the negligence of another. With the help of a trained attorney, if your loved one was killed due to the negligence of another, you can go after damages based on the lost income to cover expenses you won’t be able to cover without the income previously generated by the now-deceased loved on. On the other hand, if the victim of the wrongful death were a young child, calculations can be performed, using mathematically-crafted formulae, to determine how much money that child would have earned over their life; education, family statistics, intelligence, etc., are taken into account to reach this figure. The family of the lost child can go after that amount of money as well, for it is expected that the child would have earned that much money were they not taken from this earth due to the negligence of another.
Last, but certainly not least: pain and suffering due to the loss of a loved one. Just as lifelong expected earnings can be calculated, so too can the financial value of loss of companionship that can lead to nearly unbearable pain and suffering. Let’s say the individual who was taken from you was your confidant? Your family member and best friend? What if you suffer emotional damage from the loss that impacts every aspect of your life? Based on the rates of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and many other statistical factors, equations can be performed to determine the precise dollar value of your emotional suffering due to the loss of a loved one in the case of a wrongful death.
Money isn’t everything, and it certainly can’t fill the gap in your life that can be left by the early departure of a loved one. Still, if your family member was unjustly taken from you by way of a wrongful death, you should seek compensation to ease your suffering. If you feel you are in such a situation, please reach out to us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.