Wrongful death can have many causes. A workplace accident, a car wreck, medical malpractice or even domestic violence, regardless of the reason for the person’s demise, the survivors of the deceased can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. In the infamous case of O.J. Simpson, when a criminal trial did not bring justice to the families of Ron Brown and Nicole Brown Simpson, they sued in civil court for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
This class of damages covers the out-of-pocket expenses that would otherwise be covered by the person causing the death. Though they wouldn’t occur except for death, funeral and burial expenses are also reimbursable.
- Medical bills
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of insurance and pension benefits
- Injury to the family for the loss of prospective inheritance
- Value of contributions of goods and services
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify but generally are worth more than economic damages. The loss of consortium of a spouse is one example. Others include loss of anything that would typically be provided by a parent, sibling or close family member, such as love, guidance, comfort, advice, nurturing or companionship.
Exemplary damages seek to make an example of the defendant by bringing attention to his or her wrongdoing. Though some states do not support punitive damages in wrongful death lawsuits, they seem to view exemplary damages as a public service to warn of the penalties incurred from committing the acts that caused the death.
Punitive damages are named for the punishment that they seek from the defendant for causing the untimely death of a family member. These types of awards can skyrocket, particularly if the wrongdoer is a corporation. The class-action suits against the tobacco industry for injury and wrongful death due to the use of tobacco products is just one famous example. More recently the makers of Takata airbags have faced multiple wrongful death lawsuits. In cases against nursing homes, treble damages are often awarded for elder abuse resulting in death.
Although it is not allowed in every state, some do allow for the families to be reimbursed for attorney fees incurred in the process of bringing the wrongful death suit. It may also be possible for those families to receive interest on those fees up to the time of the ruling.
The calculation of damages for wrongful death is very complicated. The types of recoverable damages also vary from state to state. If you have lost a loved one due to malice or negligence, contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Tampa, FL, such as from Jeff Murphy Law.