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Wrongful Death Damages

This content about wrongful death damages was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

In the U.S, every state has a different set of rules on how wrongful death cases must be handled. This includes specific rules about who can file the lawsuit and the state’s civil court system, as well as its own set of rules specifying when this type of case must be filed, and which types of wrongful death damages can be requested in the claim.

What are Damages?

When talking about wrongful death cases, there will always be the issue of “damages,” which the legal dictionary at Law.com defines as “the amount of money which a plaintiff (the person suing) may be awarded in a lawsuit.”

The legal encyclopedia from Cornell Law School expands on this a little further, stating that “Damages refers to the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right. Generally, there are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive,” and it also adds that “the term ‘damages’ typically includes both categories, but the term ‘actual damages’ is synonymous with compensatory damages and excludes punitive damages.”

Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death claims or lawsuits often list general damages in their relief requested; these damages are presumed to be a consequence or a result of a person’s actions that ultimately brought the death of someone.

General damages can include pain and suffering, future problems, the crippling effect of an injury, loss of ability to perform various acts, shortening of lifespan, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of reputation (in a libel suit, for example), humiliation from scars, loss of anticipated business and other harm.

The damages (usually monetary) are paid by the wrongdoer to a person who suffered a loss or injury. Damages by wrongful death often tend to be (but are not limited to):

  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of benefits
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain, suffering and mental anguish
  • Medical bills and funeral expenses

Depending on which state the case is presented in, different damages may or may not be allowed for the lawsuit, as every state has different laws regarding wrongful death claims, how to file, and how to handle them.

Some states also allow for punitive damages, an additional award that aims reform and deter the charged person and others of ever doing the same. When available, punitive damages are usually awarded only in the most extreme cases, where the wrongdoer’s conduct was found to be malicious, oppressive, or in reckless disregard of rights and safety.

Who can be awarded Damages?

Wrongful death damages are typically awarded to spouses, children, parents, or others who may be allowed to bring a wrongful death claim under state law.

The court and jury look at many different factors about the victim and his or her relationship with their spouse and family members to determine what type and amount of damages can and will be awarded to them.

Depending on the case and the circumstances of the person’s death, punitive damages can also be awarded to the surviving family members.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.