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What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Case?

No amount of money awarded is adequate enough to replace a loved one, such as a parent, spouse, or child. However, providing compensation in the form of money damages is all a civil court can really do, so our clients are well within their rights to ask how much they can receive in a lawsuit.

The exact amount our clients can receive depends on the circumstances. Below, our wrongful death attorney runs down some of the most common damages awarded in this type of civil lawsuit.

Medical Bills & Health Care Expenses

Your loved one might have gone into the hospital for treatment before passing away. For example, after a devastating accident, they might have incurred huge medical bills for their treatment, life support and/or CPR. In a wrongful death lawsuit, our clients have received damages to compensate these medical expenses.

Funeral & Burial Costs

The average funeral costs around $11,000, according to Huffington Post. Surviving family members can receive compensation to cover the costs of the funeral and burial services.

The Deceased’s Conscious Pain and Suffering

If your loved one was conscious after the accident that ultimately kills them, then they were probably in considerable pain. For example, someone who survives the initial impact of a car accident could suffer intensely before dying. This pain and suffering deserve compensation.

Note, however, that survivors are not able to receive compensation for the pain and suffering they are enduring due to their loved one’s death. This might seem unfair, but it is the current law in New York.

Lost Wages & Benefits

Wrongful death lawsuits compensate for the loss of income that a family suffers when a loved one dies. A considerable amount of money might be available depending on your loved one’s work history.

Calculating how much your loved one would have earned depends on several factors:

  • Age at the time of death
  • Work history
  • Education
  • Salary history
  • Benefits

If a spouse died in his 30s and earned a high income, then his survivors will likely receive much more in lost wages and benefits than if someone’s parent dies in his 70s. Work closely with an attorney to calculate the amount of lost wages and lost future income that you have suffered.

Loss of Support or Services

Family members perform many services for their loved ones. Many men and women cook meals for their spouses and children, do laundry, iron, and clean the home. When a loved one dies, someone else needs to perform these services, and a wrongful death lawsuit allows our clients to receive a sum of money to pay for that.

For example, a man’s wife might have died in a car accident. If she raised the young children while her husband worked, he will now need to hire daycare services to watch his children. He should receive damages to pay for this care.

It’s also possible for parents to receive compensation for loss of support and services when a child dies. However, the amount a parent can receive will be reduced by the cost of supporting the child until he or she reaches adulthood.

Loss of Guidance Provided by a Parent

Children can receive money damages to try and make up for the loss of guidance, moral training, and emotional support their parent would have provided had he or she lived. This is obviously very difficult to put a price tag on. However, our lawyers have experience in this field and can estimate a fair amount.

Lost Inheritance for a Surviving Child

Because of the death, a child might receive much less as an inheritance then he or she was expecting. The child can often receive compensation for this loss.

Interest on the Recovery Awarded

New York law allows 9% interest on any amount awarded, starting from the date of your loved one’s death. This interest can really add up, especially if you need to go into court and bring a lengthy lawsuit which could take years.

Possible Punitive Damages

Unlike the damages mentioned above which compensate victims for their losses, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for wrongdoing. Punitive damages are sometimes available where the defendant’s conduct was malicious, intentional, or similarly reprehensible. If the defendant was merely negligent, then punitive damages will not be awarded.

If our clients are awarded punitive damages, they keep them in addition to their compensatory damages.

Contact One of Our Wrongful Death Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Every wrongful death case is different and there is no “average” amount that our clients receive. For an individualized case assessment targeted to your unique circumstances, please contact Powers & Santola, LLP today.

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