The Basics of a Wrongful Death Case
- September 8, 2014
- Wrongful Death
Just as with any type of civil litigation, a wrongful death case is governed by its own set of statutes that determine how the claim must be established, who can make a claim and how the damages are valued. When a family member files a claim, the wrongful death attorney must build a case that meets all of these standards for the claimant to receive compensation. To help potential clients better understand their rights and how these cases work, we would like to explain some of the key points to a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Standards Must be Met to have a Claim?
As in any lawsuit, certain points have to be established for the plaintiff to be legally entitled to compensation. Generally, the easiest part of a wrongful death case will be proving that a particular individual died. It is extremely rare that the death is even a point of contention in a wrongful death case. However, there are some other key points that must be demonstrated for the claim to be successful.
- The death was the result of negligence or the intent of the defendant
- The plaintiff’s relationship to the decedent and that they are a legal beneficiary
- That the claimant has suffered financial or possibly emotional damage as the result of the death
What Types of Damages can be Recovered?
For a case that involves wrongful death, there are different types of damages that can be recovered for various different reasons. If all of the necessary points can be established, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensatory damages and, depending on the case, they may also be entitled to punitive damages.
For compensatory damages, there are plenty of reasons that a family member could be entitled to compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one. The family will have lost the earning power of the decedent and this can be devastating to the finances of the surviving family members. The family will have also lost a person that provided them with things of a non-economic nature like emotional support, personal care and advice. In essence, the compensatory damages are intended to not only cover the financial impact, but it is also an attempt to mitigate the damage of losing the person.
In certain situations, the court may also award the claimant punitive damages. These are damages that are not intended to compensate for a loss, but rather to punish the defendant. In some cases, the actions of the defendant were either so reckless or uncaring, that the court feels it necessary to send a message by handing down the additional damages as a penalty.
When a loved one dies a wrongful death, family members are usually in a state of grieving that will make it difficult for them take the necessary steps to protect their rights as the surviving victims of the tragedy. A skilled wrongful death lawyer can build a case to help you recover compensation while you are getting over the emotional stress that accompanies the loss.