Legal Damages in Wrongful Death Cases: What Clients Should Know

Oct 30, 2016 — by Gary Zucker
Tags: Wrongful Death Damages

A judge's gavelThe lawyers of Gary A. Zucker & Associates believe that people in Brooklyn need strong legal advocates on their side. This is especially important in wrongful death lawsuits given the complexities of the litigation process and the emotional and psychological strain associated with the death of a loved one.

While seeking justice, it's important to consider the damages sought in these cases. Let's cover these matters in basic terms below.

About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed when a loved one is killed as a result of another person or party's negligent actions or failure to act. In these cases, that other party is considered liable for the death of a loved one. In wrongful death lawsuits, the spouse, children, parents, guardians, or an estate representative seeks damages to address the loss of life, emotional pain and suffering, and to punish the negligent party.

What are Legal Damages?

Damages are monetary rewards that are given to plaintiffs in civil cases. These damages help address various matters that are the result of the incident in question.

There are two kinds of legal damages:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Both compensatory and punitive damages may be sought in a wrongful death case. Let's take a moment to cover each individually.

About Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are damages that are intended to cover material losses of various kinds that are associated with the death of a loved on. These may include damage to property (e.g., a vehicle damaged during a fatal car accident), lost wages of the dead loved one, medical expenses prior to death, funerary costs, and emotional pain and suffering.

How Compensatory Damages are Calculated

Since compensatory damages are linked to actual losses, calculating these kinds of damages is generally easy. Bills and receipts can be added up, and future wages and benefits can be reasonably estimated. This can include therapy costs for the surviving loved ones who require assistance with the emotional fallout of this unexpected death.

About Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish the person or party responsible for the death of the loved one. Rather than being linked to specific injuries or losses, the punitive are in excess of the compensatory damages, intended to deter the negligent party from acting in a similar way in the future. In most cases, the more egregious the circumstances, the higher the punitive damages.

How Punitive Damages are Calculated

Calculating punitive damages can be tricky, which is why the amount is often determined by considering similar cases in the past. A fatal auto accident caused by a truck driver may seek out previous civil trials, for example. Or a misdiagnosis that led to death may consider other medical malpractice lawsuits with similar circumstances.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

The legal process can be difficult. When mourning the loss of a loved one, the last thing someone should deal with is complex legal language and paperwork. An attorney can offer peace of mind by handling the litigation process for you, in turn freeing time for you to mourn your loss and try to move forward with life.

Speak with an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

For more information about your legal rights and options in wrongful death lawsuits, be sure to contact our team of lawyers today. The legal team at Gary A. Zucker & Associates is here to help you and your loved ones through a trying and difficult time.

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