Wrongful Death claims arising from the negligence of another are similar to regular accident claims in some respects and different in others. They are similar in that both require proof that the negligence of another caused the harm, but different in terms of who can bring the claim and what damages can be recovered.
In a regular accident case, it is the person who is actually physically harmed who ordinarily can bring the claim. However, in a Wrongful Death claim, as discussed above, there are certain identified people who can bring the claim. This is because, of course, the person injured in the accident has passed away and can no longer bring the claim.
Similarly, what is recoverable is different. In a regular accident case, the person who was injured can seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering. In a Wrongful Death claim, however, it is the survivor’s damages that can be obtained. This includes items such as:
- The financial support provided by the decedent;
- The loss of gifts or benefits that would have been expected to receive from the decedent;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- The value of household services that that decedent would have provided;
- The loss of decedent’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support;
- The loss of decedent’s training and guidance
These losses can be difficult to calculate. Financial support often involves complex calculations based on previous earnings, education, and life expectancy. Likewise, the value of a love and companionship is difficult to put a price tag on. That is why it is important to have an experienced Wrongful Death attorney review your case.
If medical expenses are an issue, then there is the possibility of brining what is called a Survivorship action in which the medical expenses are sought on behalf of the decedent’s estates. Although related to a Wrongful Death claim, it is a separate claim.