There are many different types of damages available to survivors who file wrongful death cases. These damages can vary from state to state, however. It’s important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in your state to determine what you are entitled to and how to best present your case.
Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases
Most types of damages are not dependent on the cause of the wrongful death suit. Instead, they depend on the pecuniary loss caused by the death. Those who file a wrongful death lawsuit may be entitled compensation for:
- Medical bills incurred by the decedent prior to death
- Funeral expenses for the decedent
- Loss of the decedents future income
- Loss of the decedents benefits (pension, health insurance, etc.)
- Loss of future inheritance
- Loss of parental guidance when the decedent has surviving minor children
- Loss of spousal companionship, protection and care
- Pain and suffering of the survivors due to the trauma of losing a loved one
- Pain and suffering of the decedent if an injury preceded the death
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were intentional, malicious or particularly egregious.
Calculating Wrongful Death Damages
It is extremely difficult to place a price tag on a life lost. In a wrongful death case, the judge or jury considers numerous factors when calculating the amount of damages awarded. Such considerations include:
- Past earnings history
- Potential future earnings
- The decedents health status prior to the accident
- Life expectancy
- How the decedent spent money
- The decedent’s contribution to the household
It is up to your lawyer to present your case in such a way as to get the maximum compensation for your loss. Often this requires the expert testimony of an economist particularly in calculating future earnings. Future earnings are typically calculated using “present value.” The initial award for future earnings may consider the decedent’s current income level plus expected pay increases between the date of death and expected retirement. That award, however, would be reduced to an amount, which if invested conservatively, would be equivalent to the initial award over time.
It’s important to choose an attorney who is familiar with how wrongful death damages are calculated. At Ankin Law Office, our attorneys have years of experience securing maximum compensation for our wrongful death clients. Contact us to discuss what types of damages you can expect in your wrongful death case.