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Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

By Michael London on July 10, 2018


The scales of JusticeThe loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult, especially if the death of your loved one was a result of another person or party’s negligence. In these situations, seeking the help of a New York, NY wrongful death lawyer is crucial. An experienced attorney will help you file a civil case against the negligent party, holding them liable for the incident that led to the death of your loved one.

During a wrongful death lawsuit, you will seek legal damages from the negligent party. Many people have a poor understanding of what damages are and how they work. Let’s take a moment to consider the basics of legal damages below, including how they are calculated and how an attorney can help you.

What Are Legal Damages?

Legal damages are a monetary award given to a plaintiff in a civil case in order to cover losses related to injury or death. There are two kinds of damages that may be sought in civil cases:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Let’s go into each type in more detail below.

How Compensatory Damages Work

Compensatory damages are meant to cover any material and financial losses associated with the death of a loved one. This may include funerary expenses, the cost of medical care before the death of your loved one, emotional pain and suffering, lost wages from the loved one, and damage to property in the incident that led to a loved one’s death. As you can see, the scope is somewhat broad.

Calculating Compensatory Damages

Since compensatory damages are linked to actual losses, there is usually a bill, receipt, or paper trail that can help determine the amount being sought. This might be a bill from a therapist or grief counselor, or perhaps a bill from a funeral home. While we can reference bank and credit car statements, hold on to all receipts.

With regard to lost wages, we can go over invoices or pay stubs from the deceased, estimate future wages that will no longer be earned, and determine a fair amount to seek to cover these numbers. Potential promotions can also be considered in these estimates.

How Punitive Damages Work

Punitive damages go beyond the scope of compensatory damages. These types of damages are intended to punish the negligent party for their actions given how egregious they were. Keep in mind that punitive damages are not always sought in wrongful death cases.

If a doctor’s delayed diagnosis or surgical mistakes were particularly objectionable, punitive damages could be sought. The same is true of negligence exhibited by a trucking company in forcing their drivers to work long hours without rest, resulting in driver fatigue and a fatal crash.

Calculating Punitive Damages

Since punitive damages are not linked to actual material losses, they will need to be assessed based on the nature of the incident itself. Juries may consider witness testimony and the evidence in the case, and may also look back on cases with similar circumstances.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

Wrongful death lawsuits can be drawn out and emotionally exhausting. Working with an attorney means working with someone who will do the legal legwork for you and offer expert counsel every step of the way. While your best interests are considered, you and your loved ones can focus on mourning and moving forward. This peace of mind can be invaluable during such a difficult period.

Learn More About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

For more information about your legal options following the death of a loved one, be sure to contact the lawyers of Douglas & London, P.C. We are here to help you in your time of legal need.

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