Types of Damages Awarded for Wrongful Death

Personal Injury Lawyer

When someone dies due to reckless or negligent actions on behalf of another person or organization, the survivors may be able to file a wrongful death claim. These lawsuits seek compensation for the survivor’s loss. This can include things like lost wages, lost companionship, and funeral expenses. Wrongful death laws vary from state to state and many states even limit the amount of money that can be received for wrongful death.

Economic Damages

Economic damages may be awarded during a wrongful death lawsuit and they are meant to cover economic losses that occur because of the decedent’s death. This includes financial contributions that the decedent would have made if he or she were still alive. The following are examples of economic damages.

  • Medical and funeral expenses resulting from the death
  • Loss of certain benefits such as insurance coverage or pension plans
  • The economic value of services or goods that the decedent would have provided
  • Loss of an inheritance resulting from the death
  • Loss of wages from the decedent’s expected earnings

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to things that are less tangible and may be difficult to put a monetary value on. Examples of non-economic damages include the following.

  • The loss of affection or companionship from a deceased spouse
  • Damages to compensate for survivors’ pain and suffering or emotional distress
  • The loss of protection, care, guidance, and nurturing from the decedent
  • The loss of love from the decedent

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded as a way to punish the defendant and prevent the incident from happening again. In some states, these damages may not be available in a wrongful death claim. Or, you may not be able to recover them against certain organizations such as governmental agencies. In the instance of elder abuse or death resulting from nursing homes, however, treble damages may be awarded instead. Treble damages are an amount that equates to three times the amount of the actual damages.

Attorney Fees and Interest

In some states, survivors may recover interest on damages. This includes from the time the damages occurred until the time they were collected. Additionally, some states allow survivors to be reimbursed for any attorney fees or other costs that result from bringing the lawsuit to court.

If someone you love has died as a result of negligence, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney. During your grief, it’s often much easier to have a professional handle the details so that you don’t have to add anything else to your plate. A wrongful death lawyer will be able to help advise you on the best course of action, as well as the types of compensation that may be awarded to you.