There is no dollar value on a human life. It is tragic for families and communities when someone has their life cut short by a preventable illness or accident. In a lawsuit against a company or person who caused the death of another, however, a jury must decide the dollar amount awarded to surviving family. It is difficult, and many factors go into the dollar amount. In this post, we will discuss who can bring a wrongful death claim, what factors go into deciding the amount awarded and why family members can find solace in a successful claim.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is one in which a surviving family member sues the company or person who caused the preventable death of their loved one. To bring a claim, the person suing must be a family member who suffers economic loss because of the death. Children, parents and spouses can all bring wrongful death claims.
What determines the amount?
There are a variety of economic losses surviving family must face in the aftermath of the death of their loved one. Loss of income, medical bills and funeral expenses are examples.
Other losses are harder to determine, but are still routinely awarded. For example, juries may award damages for the loss of companionship, or the loss of sexual intimacy for a spouse. Family members can also recover for the pain and suffering endured by their loved one prior to death.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages are intended as a deterrence. If you want to change an industry or company’s behavior quickly, the most effective way is through their bottom line. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate for a specific loss.
There is more to a wrongful death claim than money
Discussing damages in a wrongful death claim can be uncomfortable. There is more to a person’s life than their income or the financial benefit they brought to others. But there are many reasons to bring a wrongful death claim. One is that despite the grief people undergo after the death of a loved one, life continues. Bills need to be paid, and often it becomes difficult for someone to manage their financial life after the death of a spouse or parent.
In addition, however, surviving family members can find comfort in holding the business or person accountable. There can be closure in knowing that the business or person responsible has had to face up to what they have done. This is especially true when criminal charges are unsuccessful.
Finally, a wrongful death lawsuit can help prevent the deaths of others. When people and businesses know there are consequences for their actions, it can help to curb that behavior in the future.