What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?
When a loved one is killed because of the reckless or negligent behavior of another – whether that be another driver or a medical professional – the family is likely to experience extreme grief over their loss. As the shock wears off, the family may start to panic about how they will be able to afford medical bills from the deceased or even pay their regular bills if the victim was contributing to household income or caregiving. Wrongful death claims are filed to seek compensation for the losses the family has endured and those that they will suffer down the road. Another way of saying compensation is “recovering damages.”
Every state allows wrongful death claims so that immediate family members can recover damages for their losses. Each state has different laws about exactly who can file a claim and what they may recover for but there are some general similarities. In this post we will take a look at the different kinds of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case.
Different types of damages in a wrongful death case
In a wrongful death claim, damages usually fall into one of three categories.
- Damages suffered from the date of the accident to the date of the victim’s death
Family members may recover for damages that happened from the date of the incident or negligent act to the date of their loved one’s death. The time frame varies broadly from a few hours to several weeks. For example, if the deceased experienced incredible pain and suffering for 48 hours after an accident caused by a reckless driver, the family may be able to recover for pain and suffering during that time frame. The family may also be able to recover for lost wages and medical bills incurred while the person was fighting for their life.
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
Families are typically entitled to have “reasonable” funeral and burial expenses covered by a settlement. Common expenses that would be covered include the cost of the death certificates, the cost of transporting the body to the funeral home and cemetery, funeral home and minister’s fees for memorial/burial services, the cost of cremation, an urn or casket, and the cost of a small headstone or memorial marker.
- Family losses after the loved one’s death
The last major category of damages involves losses to the family after their loved one passes away. This can vary from state to state, but in general, families are able to recover for future lost wages – the money that they would have earned and contributed to the family if they had not died by wrongful death. Some states also allow family members to recover damages for “loss of consortium”, which is a recovery for the loss of companionship to a spouse or love and guidance to a child.
Seek the help of a wrongful death attorney
If you lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error or the reckless/negligent behavior of another, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced wrongful death attorney fight for justice on your behalf. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a wrongful death lawyer. Call the most experienced practicing wrongful death attorneys Bellingham has at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing grieving family members in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!