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What Kinds of Damages Can I Claim in a Wrongful Death Case?

Losing a loved one is a profoundly difficult experience under any circumstances, but when that death occurs due to another’s negligence, the loss and devastation can be overwhelming. Victims in these instances endure extreme emotional distress and grief, which may be severe enough to necessitate professional counseling.

There may be financial consequences as well: loss of household income, financial support, or inheritance. You may need to pay for a funeral and other final expenses. And if your loved one required medical treatment for their injuries before they passed, you may be billed for those expenses as well.

Nothing can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one. But if it can be proven that the victim passed due to another’s negligence, the law allows you to be compensated for your losses, financial and otherwise. To help you better understand your rights and options in a wrongful death case, we’ve compiled this list of commonly claimed harms, losses, and damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are those that can be directly tied to a dollar value. For instance, you may be able to claim financial losses for your loved one’s income or payments they made toward a 401(k) or other retirement fund. You may also claim other expenses, such as funeral costs or the cost of any mental health treatment or grief counseling you received to help you cope with your loss.

Below are a few examples:

  • Loss of inheritance. These types of damages address the impact to a loved one’s estate. A wrongful death accident lawyer can help you calculate the estimated contributions your loved one would have made to their estate had they lived. You may then be able to claim these losses as part of a wrongful death claim.
  • Final expenses. Funeral and interment costs and those of final arrangements are expenses that you may be able to claim after the death of a loved one.
  • Loss of household income and other financial losses. If your loved one directly contributed to your financial well-being — whether through earned income, a health plan or retirement fund, or goods and services they provided to your household — these losses can sometimes be claimed by victims as well.
  • Medical expenses. Any medical bills that the deceased incurred from the time of their accident to their death may be claimed as part of your case.
  • Mental health treatment and counseling. If you require the care of a mental health professional after your loss, you may be able to include the cost of that treatment in your case.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages are much more difficult to quantify, since they involve intangible harms and losses sustained as a result of a loved one’s death. Examples include loss of emotional support and companionship or the impact to your mental health and well-being:

  • Mental anguish. Losing a loved one has a permanent impact on your life. In some cases, the grief and pain you experience can be included in a wrongful death claim.
  • Loss of support. Loved ones provide more than financial support. They also offer emotional support, care, advice, and nurturing. These losses are sometimes claimed by victims in a wrongful death claim.
  • Loss of companionship. The loss of society and friendship offered by a loved one may also be included in these types of claims.

Calculating noneconomic damages is extremely difficult, which is why most accident victims choose to consult with a wrongful death accident lawyer before proceeding with this type of claim.

Punitive Damages

When a victim has been killed due to another’s extremely negligent conduct — such as in an accident with a drunk driver — you may be able to claim punitive damages as well. This is financial compensation designed to punish the other party, and it may be claimed even if damages have already been assigned in a separate criminal case.

This list of possible damages is by no means comprehensive. Every wrongful death accident case is different, and the damages and losses sustained by victims and their loved ones depend greatly on the circumstances of the accident. 

Speaking to a wrongful death accident lawyer will help you understand how those details will factor into your case. A qualified lawyer will also help you calculate the financial value of your losses, even when they involve more intangible damages. 

At FVF, we strive to offer clients not only our experience and advice, but also compassion and support during an extremely difficult part of our clients’ lives. We provide a free case evaluation to victims like you to help you understand your rights and options without pressure to hire our firm. Contact us today to speak to one of our wrongful death accident lawyers.

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FVF

Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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