Dealing with the loss of a loved one is traumatic. It can be even more painful when someone you love is gone because of another person’s negligence. Depending on the specific circumstances, a personal injury lawyer can help you hold responsible parties accountable and help you find justice for your loved one by bringing a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Damages
There are three general categories of damages that may be recovered in wrongful death claims: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Damages available in wrongful death claims vary widely by state. Some states place limits on the amount and type of wrongful death damages that may be recovered.
For example, in Pennsylvania, there is no limit on the amount of economic or non-economic damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim. However, there is a limit on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded.
Economic damages are quantifiable losses a spouse or other immediate family members have suffered due to the wrongful death of a loved one. They may include:
- Medical expenses related to a fatal injury or illness
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased person’s future earnings
- Loss of benefits such as medical insurance or pension
- Loss of inheritance
- Value of services a victim would have provided to the household, such as cleaning and home maintenance
Putting an accurate value on economic damages in wrongful death cases can be challenging, as there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration, such as the person’s age, health status before their death, and their earning capacity. The best medical malpractice attorneys and wrongful death lawyers know how to properly calculate all types of damages to help make things right for victims and their families.
Non-economic damages are even tougher to calculate because they involve intangible losses suffered by the family. These types of wrongful death damages often include:
- Mental anguish or pain and suffering of the deceased person’s loved ones
- Loss of guidance, care, advice, and nurturing from the deceased victim
- Loss of companionship, love, and society from the deceased
- A spouse’s loss of consortium
Unlike other damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate a plaintiff, but to punish a defendant for particularly egregious or reckless behavior and to deter them and others from committing similar acts. In many states, punitive damages are not available in wrongful death actions or recoverable against certain entities such as government agencies.
Survival Action Damages
In addition to filing a wrongful death claim, a deceased person’s estate or family members may be entitled to bring a survival action against an at-fault party. This type of action allows the family to recover compensation for damages the deceased person would have been able to pursue in a personal injury claim had they survived.
Top car accident lawyers and other personal injury attorneys typically handle wrongful death claims as well. If you have lost a loved one, contact an attorney at Perna & Abracht, LLC to find out your options for recovering damages.