If a loved one dies, it can take an emotional toll on your family members. The unexpected fatality of a family member can also cause financial hardships. When the death of your loved one was the result of someone else’s negligence, there can be a legal remedy for survivors. This legal remedy often includes financial compensation for your losses.
St. Louis Wrongful Death Lawyer Hipskind & McAninch can help you to understand the wrongful death laws in your state. They can also assist loved ones or estate representatives with bringing a lawsuit against those deemed liable for the deceased person’s death.
State law also dictates the types of wrongful death damages that are available to you when your wrongful death lawsuit is successful. Read on for more information about being justly compensated after a wrongful death claim for your loved one.
A Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought by the survivors, or estate, of a person who died due to the negligence of another. Each state has its own specific set of laws governing wrongful death claims. These laws determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and the classes of damages that can be recovered.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Damages
The damages that are available in a wrongful death claim vary from state to state. Generally, these damages compensate family members for a fairly wide variety of losses they’ve suffered. Non-economic damages, subjective losses that are often difficult to measure, in a wrongful death claim typically include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium and loss of emotional support
- Loss of instruction and guidance the deceased would have provided
Some states, including Florida and Illinois, allow certain family members to receive compensation for the mental anguish surviving relatives have faced stemming from the death of a loved one.
Economic Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Economic losses are easy to measure in dollar amounts. However, they may require the input of qualified professionals to demonstrate:
- Medical expenses resulting from the injury or illness that caused the death
- Lost financial support that would have been provided to family members by the deceased person
- Lost inheritance or what the deceased person would have saved and left to surviving family members
- Funeral and burial expenses
Punitive Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit if the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally in connection with the death. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer.
Who Can Be Awarded Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When determining what types of damages will be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, courts look to the wrongful death laws in your state to interpret the deceased’s relationships with the different surviving family members.
Typically, wrongful death damages can be awarded to:
- The surviving spouse
- Children, but usually not adult children, may be awarded damages for the lost benefits of their relationship with the deceased parent, lost comfort and support, and financial damages caused by the wrongful death
- Parents of a minor child who has passed away can also recover damages for their emotional trauma, and loss of financial support depending on the circumstances.
Wrongful Death Claim Limits
The laws of your state specify how and when a wrongful death lawsuit needs to be filed. The statute of limitations in your state, generally two years from the date of the decedent’s death, will determine if you can be compensated for the death of your loved one. A wrongful death attorney in your community can help you gather details on wrongful death laws where you live and file a claim.