Surviving family members can file wrongful death claims arising out of fatal accidents to recover compensation for their damages. Although there are numerous damages that could be addressed in this type of case, one of the most significant pertains to the emotional damages suffered.
Pursuing Emotional Damages in a Wrongful Death
Noneconomic damages don’t focus on the financial loss experienced by surviving family members, but on the emotional impact of their loss. Sometimes this amount can be even greater than what’s recovered for doctor/hospital expenses and other forms of economic compensation.
One example is mental anguish. This addresses the psychological pain and distress experienced by spouses, children and parents. It can lead to depression, anxiety and other disabling emotional effects. Loss of companionship and other emotional effects of the family’s loss could be addressed, too.
The types of damages awarded depend on whether it was on behalf of a spouse, child or parent. There could be separate damages based on the unique losses of more than one family member (such as a spouse and dependent children).
Another aspect of emotional damages may address the loss of services. Of course, there could be a financial component to this when it’s necessary to hire someone for the care of young children or to perform household tasks such as cleaning. But these are losses that can also impact a family physically and emotionally.
Other Damages That May Be Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
In addition to the emotional damages available, there may be compensation for the medical expenses related to the injuries. This may include emergency services, hospitalization, and other costs.
If the family was financially dependent on the deceased, the wages they are now without could be addressed in a claim. It may even include fringe benefits such as a pension or retirement plan. Funeral expenses may also be recoverable in a wrongful death claim.
Distribution of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Determining the amount recoverable in a wrongful death case is much easier when considering actual costs incurred (such as medical bills or lost wages). The beneficiaries may recover compensation in proportion to their entitlement to the deceased’s estate under intestate laws.
If there is a spouse but no children, the spouse receives all the compensation. If there is a spouse and children, the spouse will take half the estate, then another $30,000 if the children are also the spouse’s. If the children are not the spouse’s, the spouse only takes half the estate. The children divide what’s left. If there are children and no spouse, the children take all the estate. If there are no spouse and children, the parents can divide the estate equally.
Different considerations may impact how emotional damages are distributed; for instance, the age of the beneficiary or the extent to which the loss has impacted the family member will be factored into distribution of emotional damages.
Get Help from Cordisco & Saile LLC
Learn more about how emotional damages are assessed in a wrongful death claim; contact an attorney at Cordisco & Saile LLC. We help our clients determine all the different types of compensation that family members are entitled to recover when a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence.