Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Who Can File And How Damages Are Calculated

A wrongful death is one that has occurred because of the negligence of a responsible party. A doctor can be found liable for a wrongful death, for example, if they fail to provide reasonable treatment for an individual and the lack of treatment results in their untimely death. While it is often difficult to prove a wrongful death, spouses and children who lose a parent can sue for wrongful death if they believe their loved one has died because of the negligence of a treatment provider.

It is also possible for a parent to file a wrongful death lawsuit for a child, if that parent relied on the deceased financially for the care of the child. 

How Damages are Calculated in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are as varied as the people who file them. Factors taken into consideration when calculating damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • The loss of future wages that the deceased would have earned.
  • The emotional pain and suffering caused by the unexpected death.
  • The loss of a secure future and loss of the companionship of the deceased.
  • Bills from medical expenses and funeral costs.
  • Punitive damages that would punish the defendant for particularly heinous negligent acts.

While there is no set formula for calculating damages, the pecuniary losses such as medical expenses and the costs associated with a funeral are easy to measure. Added to the pecuniary losses are the non-pecuniary losses, which are often difficult to put a numeric figure to. In general, the younger the deceased was at the time of death, the more compensation the beneficiaries will receive for the loss of future wages. If the deceased was elderly, and receiving social security benefits, for example, the loss of future wages doesn't really exist. 

With emotional pain and suffering, it is impossible to really put a compensation number on this aspect of a wrongful death lawsuit. Pain and suffering is subjective, and it will be up to the judge to provide what they believe is reasonable compensation for pain and suffering should you succeed in winning a wrongful death lawsuit.

In particularly heinous acts of negligence, the judge will sometimes impose punitive damages. These are assigned in cases where the judge believes it is necessary to punish the defendant, in an effort to prevent them from committing the same act in the future. While punitive damages are not part of every wrongful death lawsuit, they are a possible addition when the judge considers financial compensation. For more information, contact a company like Allison & Rickards, Attorneys at Law, LLC.