Over 200,000 deaths resulted from unintentional injuries. Unintentional falls, car accidents, and poisonings are the leading causes.
Losing a loved one is devastating. The loss is even more profound if it’s due to someone else’s mistakes.
You may be able to recover financial damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. How do you know if you’re eligible and how much can you receive?
Read this guide to learn how wrongful death damages get calculated and who may be entitled to receive them.
What Are Wrongful Death Damages?
Wrongful death damages is the financial compensation awarded to a person’s survivors or estate if their death is due to someone else’s action or inaction.
There are a few categories of wrongful death damages.
Pecuniary damages refer to tangible monetary losses suffered by the plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit. This amount gets proven by receipts, incomes statements, and medical bills.
Non-pecuniary damages can’t get measured. These damages impact the quality of life or emotional trauma suffered by the plaintiffs.
Punitive damages get awarded to survivors only if there was extremely reckless behavior. This is meant to punish the person responsible more than award the survivors.
In most states, wrongful death claims are filed by spouses, children, or parents of the deceased.
This article about wrongful death explains who can file a wrongful death claim and why it’s important to work with an attorney.
How a Wrongful Death Settlement Gets Calculated
The first step in determining damages in a wrongful death claim is to prove liability and negligence. There are legal thresholds to meet.
You have the burden to prove the defendant had a duty to care, that duty was violated, and the violation directly resulted in wrongful death.
This burden of proof is the same whether you’re dealing with a motor vehicle accident or a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Who decides the amount of wrongful death damages? In most cases, this gets decided by a jury or judge.
The damages awarded are the total of pecuniary, non-pecuniary, and punitive damages.
Pecuniary damages get calculated by adding the expenses incurred such as funeral costs, the age of the person who died, their current earnings, and future earning potential.
Non-pecuniary damages get calculated with the help of attorneys. They’ll get statements from mental health professionals, learn about the relationship between the family members, and how the decedent contributed to the household.
Punitive damages get awarded by the jury or judge. The only way to influence this settlement amount is to demonstrate the defendant showed extreme recklessness.
A jury or judge will look at cases like yours to see what other damages got awarded. They’ll decide wrongful death settlement amount close to previous damages.
Calculating Wrongful Death Damages
Losing a loved one is terrible, but you may receive wrongful death damages.
How are wrongful death damages calculated? A judge or jury looks at tangible monetary damages and put a dollar amount on emotional pain suffered. They also decide if the person responsible for the wrongful death was reckless in the case.
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