The emotional roller coaster of a wrongful death case can be overwhelming for the grieving individuals or family members left behind.
As if the loss of the loved one isn’t enough, the financial hardship can be devastating as well.
The amount of damages available in wrongful death cases can vary from state to state. In medical malpractice wrongful death cases, for instance, many states will cap the amount that one is able to receive in damages.
In general, damages are divided into three categories:
- Punitive. Damages awarded to punish the defendant for bad conduct. Some states do not allow this type of award in wrongful death cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and to deter similar behavior in the future.
- Economic. These types of damages include the financial contributions that the victim would have given the survivors had he or she not passed away. Some of these include the loss of the victim’s expected earnings, loss of pension plans or medical coverage, the value of goods and services that a victim would have provided had they still been alive, expenses connected to the victim’s death such as medical or funeral costs, and the loss of the inheritance that has been caused by an untimely death.
- Non-economic. These types of damages can actually provide more value than economic damages, although they are less tangible. Some of these include damages from mental anguish that the wrongful death has caused surviving family members, loss of consortium from the deceased spouse, loss of companionship, advice, and nurturing that the deceased could have offered had they been alive.
A court will look at all the surrounding circumstances to decide who will receive damages and how much will be awarded. Generally, the people who receive damages from wrongful death cases are spouses, children, and/or parents.