The pain of losing a loved one is one of the hardest to bear, and the grief of their loss follows their surviving family members throughout their lives. While this experience is traumatic enough on its own, the grief especially hurts more if your loved one was lost to an accident that was someone else’s fault. Although nothing can bring your loved one back or rewrite time, you can hold their offenders responsible for their role in your beloved’s untimely demise. If you lose the sole breadwinner of your family in a tragic accident, you also must deal with the stress of having to deal with your family’s financial issues, which can be nearly impossible to mitigate without the deceased’s income.
Fortunately, there is a way to seek justice for your tragedy and make sure that the offender will not hurt another family like yours in the future. If you believe that the accident that claimed your loved one’s life resulted from the negligence of another party, you can sue them for financial compensation. The guidelines for said lawsuits vary between states, and the amount awarded as compensation depends on the circumstances of the accident. If you have lost a loved one in an unfortunate fatal accident, you should consult an experienced attorney from Kogan & DiSalvo in Stuart, FL for legal representation.
Forms of Legal Compensation Awarded in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The deceased individual’s surviving family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant to seek compensation for their damages. While ‘damages’ is a broad legal term that encompasses many things, in the context of a wrongful death lawsuit it refers to the legally compensable amount for damages that resulted between the time of the accident and the time of death. Here is a brief overview of the forms of legal compensation awarded in wrongful death claims.
If, before their death, the deceased received medical care in an emergency setting due to the injury resulting from the accident, their medical expenses would become a part of the wrongful death claim filed by their family.
Loss of Income
The decedent’s family might be entitled to compensation for their loss of income that resulted from the accident. Victims of accident-related injuries often spend some time in the care of a hospital or recovering at home from their injuries, which can cause them to miss work. Even after their death, their family can sue the defendant for compensation for the potential loss of income, i.e., the amount they would have received had the deceased lived and remained able to work.
Loss of Consortium
Losing a spouse can be an excruciating experience for the surviving partner and leave them with lifelong emotional trauma. When someone loses their partner in an unfortunate accident, they can sue the negligent party for compensation for loss of companionship. Financial compensation can help the surviving partner have access to resources that can help them cope with the loss of their beloved.
Incidental expenses refer to the costs that arise specifically from the accident and can include miscellaneous expenses like cab fares and other transportation costs related to the incident. These expenses are paid out-of-pocket and not covered by any form of insurance. The best practice is to save the receipts of said expenses in case their need arises in the future when you decide to seek legal action.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
The offending party will also be held responsible for the costs of funeral services and burial expenses of the deceased. Funeral expenses also constitute an out-of-pocket expense not covered under any insurance. If a family loses their sole earner, it can become impossible for them to bear the financial strain of paying for the burial costs of their loved one.
Emotional Pain and Suffering
Although emotional pain and suffering are not quantifiable, most wrongful death claims include them in legally compensable damages. Losing a family member can be unimaginably difficult, and the mental anguish can be challenging to deal with on your own. Having enough financial resources to seek professional help for your emotional suffering can be a helping hand in an undeniably challenging time.
In some cases, the conduct of the offending party is so egregious that the court awards the plaintiff an additional amount as punitive damages. A judge or jury to award these damages to set an example for future offenders and prevent such reckless behavior in the future.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the legal deadline observed in all potential lawsuits and varies between state legislatures. Any lawsuit that is brought forth after this deadline gets dismissed, which is why it is very important to stay aware of the statute of limitations regarding wrongful death lawsuits in your state. For instance, this limit is two years for Florida, and the clock starts ticking at the time of death.
Oftentimes a personal injury lawsuit is already in progress when the victim of the accident succumbs to their injuries. Since death can occur long after the incident while a lawsuit might be underway, it is assumed that the family cannot file another lawsuit like a wrongful death claim. However, this is a wrong assumption; the surviving family members of the decedent can file a wrongful death claim despite having settled out of court or awarded damages by a judge or jury in a prior civil lawsuit. It is because the damages included in wrongful death claims might be different from the ones that form a part of the civil negligence lawsuit.
Losing someone you love in a tragic accident is never easy, and the pain only increases once you find out that the incident was someone else’s fault. While there is no way to bring your loved one back, you can seek justice for their untimely demise by pursuing legal action against the negligent party via a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you achieve justice for the loss of your loved one while you focus on your recovery.