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What damages can a family seek in a wrongful death claim?

When someone dies due to the actions or negligence of another, their family might decide to seek a wrongful death claim. This process allows them to pursue compensation for their immense loss and the financial burden it brings.

A wrongful death claim can provide the support a grieving family needs as they begin to rebuild their lives without a loved one.

Economic damages explained

Economic damages are one of the main types of compensation in a wrongful death claim. These are actual costs with a clear dollar amount, such as medical bills, funeral expenses and burial costs. Another component is the loss of potential earnings. This compensation helps the family cover the income that the deceased would have earned if they had lived.

Non-economic damages covered

Non-economic damages address the emotional and personal losses suffered by the deceased’s family, which are harder to quantify. These damages compensate for the suffering the deceased endured before death. They also compensate the family for the loss of companionship, affection and guidance from the deceased. This category highlights the profound personal impact of the loss beyond just financial terms.

The role of punitive damages

In some cases, a wrongful death claim may include punitive damages. These do not compensate for a loss but rather punish the individual or entity whose conduct caused the death. Courts award punitive damages when they find the defendant’s actions particularly reckless or malicious. Their goal is to deter similar behaviors in the future.

While a wrongful death claim cannot bring back a loved one, it aims to provide some measure of relief to families who have suffered an irreplaceable loss.