When you are in a situation where you have lost someone dear to you. You are facing a time of uncertainty and it can be frightening. This is especially true if that person was a source of emotional and financial support. None of us want to think about what we would do if we suffered such a tremendous loss. Unfortunately, it happens every day. People are involved in accidents due to the carelessness or thoughtlessness of others. Others are viciously attacked and even murdered. While compensation cannot replace this person, or ease our pain, restitution can ensure that we do not suffer further due to monetary problems caused by their death. The legal system in American provides for these very situations.
What damages can be claimed?
- Medical and related expenses from the moment of the accident until the time of death.
This may include:
- Mental suffering for the victim
- Physical suffering for the victim
- Lost wages while the victim
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Property loss
- A car destroyed in the accident
- Other valuables lost or destroyed due to the accident or incident (based on fair market value)
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship and special bonds between partners, parents and their children, and various life-changing relationship changes
- Punitive damages
- Punitive damages are awarded as a “punishment” to the responsible party and meant to deter the defendant and others from repeating that action. A judge will take many things into account when adding punitive damages, such as the motive behind the act that lead to the death, if this was a repeat offense such as a DUI. It is completely up to the judge if punitive damages will be awarded and how much.
- Future earnings
- In some states, it is possible to sue the responsible person, manufacturer, company, or aggressor to recover the amount of money the victim could reasonably have been expected to earn, had he or she lived to retirement age. This is important when the victim leaves behind young children or a spouse who depended upon their income to maintain their quality of life.
Who can sue for wrongful death damages?
In a wrongful death case, the family left behind to suffer are the ones who are entitled to compensation. This includes:
- Spouse of the victim
- Children of the victim
- The victim’s life partner
- The parents of the victim
- Putative spouse
- In some states, a person who was financially dependent on the victim, and had reason to believe they would have become the spouse of the victim is a putative spouse and entitled to sue in a wrongful death case.
- Distant relatives
- Grandparents who were raising or raised the victim
- Siblings in certain situations
- Other people who suffer a financial loss due to the death
- Parents of a deceased fetus (brought on by the accident)
While damages for emotional trauma are normally awarded to parents of minor children and minor children of the victim, parents of adult children and adult children of the victim are not usually awarded emotional damages. For more information, contact your attorney.