If a loved one died due to the negligent actions of someone else, you have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. With a wrongful death lawsuit, you generally have to be the spouse, child, parent or be directly related dependent of the deceased in order to file a lawsuit. Who can file a lawsuit varies by state, so this is something you will want to verify with an attorney.
Once you decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you are going to need to work with your attorney to determine what type of financial compensation you think you deserve if your lawsuit is successful. There are five general categories that one is generally awarded money for in these types of lawsuits.
Category #1: Pain and Suffering
One of the most well-known categories in this type of lawsuit is the pain and suffering that you and your family have gone through due to the death of your loved one. This can be a hard number to quantify, but most attorneys have a method for coming up with a reasonable number for pain and suffering.
You can increase this award amount by being able to directly show how your loved one's death had a negative impact on your life, such as through counseling or changes in life circumstances.
Category #2: Lost Wages
Second, you can sue for the lost wages that your loved one would have earned for the rest of their life had they not been killed in a wrongful death situation. With lost wages, you need to calculate more than just the salary they lost.
You also need to take into account the value of benefits lost, such as healthcare, and the decrease in retirement that you will get due to your loved one's untimely death. Your attorney may bring in a financial expert to calculate your loved one's lost wages.
Category #3: Loss of Relationship
Third, you can sue for the loss of a relationship. This can be the loss of a relationship between a child and their parent, between a parent and their child, or between spouses.
Generally, other family relationships are not considered, but it is always best to ask your attorney about this. Once again, like pain and suffering, this can be a tricky item to put a value on, but your attorney may have a formula they rely on to come up with a specific number for a loss of a relationship.
Category #4: Medical Expenses
Fourth, you can ask to have any medical expenses associated with your loved one's wrongful death covered. This is a more straightforward request, as you can add up all of the bills from their medical care to come up with this figure.
Category #5: Funeral Costs
Fifth, you can ask for funeral costs to be covered as well. Like with medical costs, for this, you need to add up the receipts for your loved one's funeral.
Category #6: Pain and Suffering of Loved One
Finally, you can ask for compensation for the suffering your loved one went through. You can prove their suffering through accounts of what lead to their death or the medical treatment they had to endure.
With a wrongful death lawsuit, there are lots of areas that you can ask for compensation for. Work with your wrongful death attorney to come up with fair and reasonable amounts of damage for each category outlined above.