When a family member dies unexpectedly, it can leave family members in a state of turmoil. And then to find out that an individual or company was at-fault, and their loved one would have been here otherwise, can feel like too much to bear. Surviving family members can file a lawsuit against the person or entity that was negligent and caused the accident to happen in the first place. As a wrongful death lawyer at Hayhurst Law, PLLC explains, those who suspect that their relative was taken in a wrongful way, and another is responsible, is advised to talk with a legal team about their situation as soon as possible.
Only certain relatives are permitted to file a wrongful death case, such as the spouse, domestic partner, grandchildren, stepchildren, legal guardians, children, or other dependents. But the laws for who can file a wrongful death claim vary by state, so it depends on where the wrongful death occurred. The person who caused the death may be sued at the criminal and civil level. A lawsuit can be filed if liability for the death can be proven and the negligent, purposeful, or reckless actions directly caused the person’s death.
Before the person passed away, they may have received medical care at a hospital. The surviving family may receive damages for emergency room care, medical tests, prescription medicine, surgery, and other treatment. Healthcare costs such as mental health help may also be considered in the wrongful death settlement.
Restitution for current and future wages may be given to the surviving family in the wrongful death lawsuit. This includes the victim’s capacity for earning if the survivors were dependents and had relied on the victim’s income to sustain themselves. Loss of earning capacity entails anticipated earnings for the rest of the victim’s life, and is calculated on industry standards by a lawyer.
Pain and Suffering
This is a form of non-economic damages that may be awarded to the loved ones left behind. If the survivors had to witness the pain and suffering their loved one went through before passing away, they may receive more in the wrongful death settlement. As relatives prepare for a lawsuit, they will have to describe what the victim had gone through and what they witnessed themselves.
Funeral and Burial Costs
The costs for an unplanned burial and funeral can be a heavy burden on surviving loved ones. Funerals are actually expensive and can range between $5,000-$10,000 or more. The fees for a headstone, casket, embalming, flowers, pamphlets, and other funeral preparations may be factored into the settlement as well.
Compensation for property damage may be included in a wrongful death lawsuit if the victim experienced damage to their property associated with the accident. For instance, if a person had died in a car accident and their vehicle was totaled, the surviving family may seek monetary restitution for this from the at-fault party.