If you have recently lost a loved one due to the fault of another person or company, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. For a free evaluation of your case, contact The Law Offices of Loren Scott Etengoff today.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit initiated by a loved one or surviving family member of someone who was killed due to the carelessness or behavior of another person or entity. The lawsuit is typically against the person or company responsible for the wrongful death. The surviving party may seek to recover for financial, emotional, and/or future losses associated with the death of their loved one.
What is Necessary to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In order to succeed in your wrongful death clam, you will have to prove the elements of the case. The following is a list of the elements of a wrongful death claim:
- The death of a person;
- The death was caused by the negligence or intent to cause harm;
- There are surviving family members who are affected financially as a result of the death; and
- The appointment of a personal representative for the estate of the deceased.
Wrongful death claim attorney Loren Scott Etengoff has been a practicing attorney since 1980 and has handled several wrongful death claims. Her vast knowledge and experience has assisted countless grieving families throughout the years in recovering damages for the loss of their loved ones.
What are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Claims?
A wrongful death claim can be filed as result of multiple circumstances. Some examples of situations where a wrongful death claim may emerge from include:
- Defective/malfunctioning machinery or products
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice issues
- Work-related deaths
- Exposures to toxins
- Deaths that occur in a supervised environment
- Plane crashes
- Criminal behavior such as murder
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Financial costs are the main quantification of damages in a wrongful death claim. Some examples of damages can be recovered include:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages of the deceased party
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Medical expenses
- Lost prospect of inheritance
- Loss of support
- Punitive damages
Most laws state that the damages awarded for a wrongful death claim shall be fair and just compensation for the financial injuries that resulted from the loved one’s death. In addition, these damages will accrue interest starting from the date of the loved one’s death.
How is the Financial Loss Determined in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Besides immediate costs, there are other factors to consider when determining how much the surviving members should be compensated for the loss of their loved one. These factors can include:
- Age of the loved one
- Health/condition of the loved one
- Character of the loved one
- Earning capacity of the loved one
- Intelligence of the loved one
- The situation/circumstances of the surviving family members
For example, if a person dies who is middle-aged with dependents, the court will have to take that into consideration. As that person would have still been able to work and had children/dependents who needed their contributions, the damages recovered for the dependents would have to fairly compensate them for the loss of income that would affect them moving forward. That would include the consideration of future earnings that would have been paid to the deceased.
The Jury’s Effect on the Reward in a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims are normally decided by a jury. The jury will make a suggestion on what the compensation should be for the surviving family members. The jury would determine this award after hearing the evidence presented by both sides. The court may adjust the reward if they do not agree with the jury’s amount.
Expert Witnesses in a Wrongful Death Claim
Expert witnesses may be used to help present the case for why the surviving family members should receive certain amounts of money. Expert witnesses can assist in a wrongful death claim by:
- Establishing the value of the deceased to the surviving family members
- Determining the value of a loved one who did not work, but provided countless services that will cost money in the future(an example would be a stay-at-home mother)
- Assisting in estimating the future earnings of a lost loved one
Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
In severe wrongful death cases, the surviving family members may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are rewarded when the court/jury decides that the surviving family members should be compensated beyond the normal recovery rewarded due to the egregious behavior and actions of the defendant.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have A Wrongful Death Case?
If you feel you have a wrongful death claim and want to pursue legal action, contact a Wrongful Death attorney immediately. The Law Offices of Loren Scott Etengoff have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you recover in your wrongful death claim. Call (360) 693 -2919 for a for a free case evaluation.