The death of a loved one causes an enormous emotional turmoil on family members. Unfortunately, the demise could also lead to extreme financial hardship. Wrongful death claims are the law’s way of easing the financial burden on families left behind after an entity or person causes their loved one’s wrongful death.
It’s essential to understand the scope of compensation you are legally accorded when you suffer the wrongful death of a loved one. Read on for what constitutes a wrongful death case, the types of compensation, and who can receive it.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is a civil suit brought forward by the estate or survivors if the deceased passed away due to another party’s intentional actions or negligence. All states have specific rules that govern wrongful death claims, including who can sue for such a claim. Generally, a personal representative or family member of the deceased may make a claim. State rules specify when the claim can be made (period since the death).
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Generally, there are two broad categories of damages in wrongful death claims. The first is the damages recovered for the deceased’s suffering from the negligent act until their death. For example, if the deceased died after being hit by a car, this would refer to the period of suffering as they tried to get assistance, including medical aid, until they finally succumbed.
The period could range from a few hours to weeks; every case is different. The specific damages for this period may include the medical bills, pain and suffering of the deceased, lost wages, and even funeral and burial costs.
The second category covers the damages for losses suffered by the deceased’s next of kin due to the death. These damages are a tool to compensate the close family for their financial losses. Most state laws indicate that the particular damages are to compensate the family with the monetary value that the deceased would have brought, were it not for the untimely death.
There are other damages with the two broad categories specific to state laws; contacting a Chicago wrongful death attorney will help you know which of those you can receive in Chicago. For instance, some states will allow spouses to claim the loss of their consortium; a family member may also claim this. Loss of consortium is compensation for losing the deceased’s love and companionship. The same may apply where an adult parent has died and left underage children behind deprived of parental care, love, and companionship.
Who Does a Wrongful Death Claim Protect?
The type of damages awarded are strongly dependent on the relationship of the claimant with the deceased. Generally, damages in wrongful death claim may be awarded to the following:
Specifically, minor children may be awarded damages to compensate them for the benefits they lost from their child-patient relationship with the deceased.
Parents who have lost a minor child can recover damages for all the emotional trauma due to losing their kid.
Surviving spouses can claim the companionship lost due to the death. The surviving spouse may also recover compensation for the emotional trauma caused by the untimely loss.
Every Case Is Different
Depending on the circumstances of a case, the courts may choose to award punitive damages primarily when the defendant had acted in an unreasonably reckless manner. As soon as you speculate that your loved one’s death may have been a wrongful death scenario, you should speak to an attorney.
When the at-fault party realizes that you may make a claim, they are likely to offer you a settlement that is often way lower than the actual value of your claim. Refrain from making rushed decisions. Speak to a wrongful death attorney to at least help you calculate the real value of your claim. An attorney will also give you your possible options to make a sound decision from then on.