The sudden loss of a loved one can cause significant emotional trauma for family members. At the same time, such a loss also triggers financial challenges a family may have never faced before. For example, if the decedent was the main income earner for the family, they may face tremendous financial strain as they face unexpected expenses, but don't have the income to meet them.
While this may be a difficult time to think about money and you cannot place a value on an individual's life, it becomes important for the family that has been through a tremendous loss to consider legal action. In most cases, wrongful death lawsuits are also the only way to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their actions, especially in cases where prosecutors haven't filed criminal charges.
Each wrongful death case is different and there are a number of factors that could dictate the value of each case. Generally speaking, here are some of the common types of damages that could be sought in a wrongful death case:
- Medical bills: In many wrongful death cases, the decedent likely spent several days or even longer in the hospital, undergoing surgeries and receiving medical treatment. The victim may have received emergency transportation and other treatments. These bills often add up. The costs can place significant financial stress on grieving families. These are economic damages that could be claimed in a wrongful death case.
- Funeral and burial costs: The expenses relating to a funeral and burial could be exorbitant and could even run into thousands of dollars. These are also economic damages that survivors of decedents can claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Loss of income: This is an important aspect of wrongful death damages. To determine the correct amount of damages, the decedent's anticipated income (had he or she lived) needs to be calculated. Some of the factors that must be taken into consideration include inflation, the victim's health, life expectancy, etc. This category could also loss of benefits in addition to wages such as healthcare, pensions, retirement benefits and Social Security income. In some cases, children may even lose out on college tuition benefits.
- Loss of care: If the decedent was a stay-at-home parent caring for a child, the survivors could receive compensation for the financial toll the loss of such an individual would put on the family. Costs of childcare, housekeeping and other domestic services could be included in this category of damages.
- Pain and suffering: While pain and suffering might not always be awarded in wrongful death cases, they could be in significant cases. These damages are meant to compensate survivors for their emotional pain and distress after the death of their loved one. This falls under the category of non-economic damages. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will be able to calculate these types of damages.
- Punitive damages: These are awarded in cases where the type of negligence on the part of the defendant was particularly egregious. Punitive damages are often awarded in product defect cases where manufacturers knew that a product was dangerous or defective, but took no action to recall those products or warn consumers about the dangers.
If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, our experienced Orange County wrongful death attorneys can help you seek and obtain fair compensation for your losses. Call us for a free initial consultation.