Wrongful Death Case – Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green
In relation to the immense and devastating tragedy that befell the town of Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, the term “wrongful death” is a gross understatement. The killing of these individuals—the vast majority of who were children—was senseless, horrifying, shocking and depressing. While the one directly responsible for the deaths may be dead himself, there might be other individuals who failed in their responsibilities in this matter, but that is an issue for another day. For now, we must let Newtown recuperate.
In this blog, we are going to discuss some aspects of a wrongful death suit. Typically, this would not be a homicide case (though death by homicide is certainly a “wrongful” death). Generally, in terms of personal injury law, a wrongful death is a death that takes place due to the negligence of another (as opposed to the malice or direct intent). Consider a car accident in which the negligent driver hits another vehicle, the driver of which dies due to injuries. Or, for another example, consider a man walking down a slippery (improperly maintained) aisle of a grocery store and slipping, sustaining life-ending injuries. These two examples would be typical examples of personal injury law-type wrongful death suits.
So, who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit given that the focal point of the case, the deceased individual, is unable to sue in a court of law? Basically, who has standing to sue? Typically, close family members of the deceased (spouses, siblings, children, parents, etc.,) are afforded the ability to sue the negligent party in relation to the death of their close (deceased) family member. What can the family sue for? This is a complex question that varies on a case-to-case and a State by State basis, but below we are going to outline three primary types of damages that family members might try to recover following the death of a family member.
A primary focal point in looking to recover damages via a wrongful death suit is what is called “economic damages.” This is a term that relates to the financial loss as a result of the death. Economic damages might include funeral expenses, medical bills, etc., but they typically also include the lost income of the deceased individual. Say, for example, the deceased was the primary supporter of the household. The loss of his money would be of great detriment to the sustainability of the family, and therefore it would be considered a major economic damage that the suing family members might try to recover.
The next type is what is referred to as “non-economic damages.” These are damages that you can’t really put a price tag on. (However, there are experts that do assess the dollar value of these damages). Types of damages that fall under the category of “non-economic damages” are such things as pain and suffering of people due to the loss of a family member.
Finally, depending on the situation, family members may be able to pursue punitive damages if the negligence was reckless (i.e. defendant driver was drunk). Punitive damages can be incredibly large amounts of money, depending on the case, and also serve as a “punishment” to the negligent party and a deterrent to others who might be susceptible to engaging in similar negligence.
Because wrongful death cases vary to such a wide degree, so do the damage determinations in each case. It is best to discuss your individual case with an experienced attorney, like one at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg. If you have any questions relating to this or any other issue, please contact us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.