When people are harmed due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another party, the injured party has a right to recover for the damages caused. Normally, these damages are classified as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages include items such as medical expenses and lost wages from missed work, while non-economic damages compensate for the less tangible aspects of an injury, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. More information
However, when a person is killed in an accident rather than injured, a family member can usually bring a wrongful death action against the party responsible for the accident. Known as a wrongful death action, these cases are similar to personal injury lawsuits, differing primarily in terms of the damages which can be recovered. In a wrongful death case, recoverable damages are those suffered not by the decedent, but by the person bringing the lawsuit. Damages can include the following:
Funeral and Burial Expenses
Loss of financial support that the decedent would have provided
Loss of gifts or other benefits the decedent would have given
The value of services the decedent would have contributed to the household
Likewise, examples of non-economic damages personal to the plaintiff include:
Loss of society, companionship, and comfort
Loss of marital relations
Loss of training and guidance
Wrongful death actions are creatures of statute, and are therefore governed by state law. The precise nature of allowable damages differ from state to state, as do other matters such as which family members are entitled to bring a suit, and the time frame within which a lawsuit may be brought, known as the statute of limitations. An experienced trial attorney will be sensitive to these distinctions, and advise you on the specific rules governing a wrongful death action in your particular jurisdiction.
When a person injured in an accident dies within the limitations period but before filing suit, or began a lawsuit but did not live to see a settlement or verdict, a personal representative of the deceased may pursue a survival action on his or her behalf. In these instances, the damages sought are those which were personal to the decedent, such as medical expenses. When undertaken, survival actions are often coupled with wrongful death actions, enabling a maximum recovery for the victim and his or her family.
Our skilled and knowledgeable trial lawyers have served clients across the country in personal injury and wrongful death actions arising from automobile accidents and product liability matters. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another party, contact our office today for a free initial consultation. More information on this website