When a person dies because of negligence, the effects of their death resonate through their surviving family members. Families are pulled in several emotional directions, from sadness to anger. Spouses, while attempting to cope with their loss, are also put in a position of financial discord and struggle. These individuals deserve restitution for their loss and justice for their deceased loved one. Therefore, many families choose to file wrongful death suits when the circumstances warrant it, and they can file for several types of damages: economic and pain and suffering.
While the emotional struggle is often overwhelming for surviving family members, the financial toll of the loss is often equally disheartening. Economic damages include provable losses. For example, many states will allow families to sue to recover the funeral and burial costs of their loved ones. Also, if significant hospital expenses were incurred as a result of the accident or injury that led to the death of the deceased, then families can most likely seek restitution for these losses as well. There are also some states that will allow the surviving family to make a claim for the loss of inheritance or earning capacity. However, not every state will allow such lawsuits. Therefore, you will need to check with an attorney to find out what economic damages are actually recoverable in your state.
Pain and Suffering
Typically, when discussing pain and suffering in wrongful death lawsuits, it is in reference to the experiences of the deceased and not the family. Therefore, while an abstract and hard to quantify concept, surviving family members can sue on behalf of the dead. For example, if your loved one suffered in a hospital and was unable to perform their regular duties and activities, you can seek damages for a loss of society. If they were unable to be affectionate, you could seek losses for companionship. Also, it is possible that you can seek restitution for your own pain and suffering. However, it is possible that different states place different caps on the damages awarded for pain and suffering, so consult with a local attorney.
The death of a loved one, especially when due to negligence, is exhausting. You might feel lost, sad emotional barren. The financial loss might be stifling, making it difficult to continue in normal day-to-day activities, and your ability to recover damages might be limited by your state. If your loved one fell victim to the negligence of someone else, then contact a personal injury lawyer in Trenton, NJ for help and support.
Thanks to Davis & Brusca for their insight into personal injury claims and damages in wrongful death cases.