What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death is the term used when a person has died due to the deliberate, reckless, or negligent actions of another. Such lawsuits are brought by the deceased’s family members or representatives of the deceased’s estate. Overall, the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate family members who have suffered financially and emotionally from the death. Typically, wrongful death may occur as a result of medical malpractice, automobile accidents, on-the-job injuries, or criminal attacks.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Generally speaking, immediate family members of the deceased, such as parents, spouses, or children, can bring wrongful death claims (minors may need an adult guardian to bring a suit to court).
How are family members compensated for their loss in a wrongful death claim?
Damages awarded in wrongful death settlements or jury verdicts attempt to compensate for the current and the future financial and emotional costs to the deceased’s family. These damages include:
- Medical bills and funeral costs
- Lost wages, including future earnings
- Lost benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of support or companionship
- Punitive damage (for willful, wanton, reckless, or intentional conduct)
Damages in the form of medical bills and funeral costs are the least difficult to calculate by totaling those sums incurred (regardless of any payments made by an insurance company). Lost future earnings and benefits are more difficult to calculate and require a determination of the anticipated lifespan and earnings of the deceased.
Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship are the most difficult damages to calculate. Such damages are, of course, subjective and unique to each person’s sense of loss.
A final area of damages is punitive damages which are awarded to punish the person or the entity causing the death if they acted willfully, wantonly, recklessly, or intentionally.
The Charleston Personal Injury Lawyers at Futeral & Nelson, LLC help those who have been injured in Charleston, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Moncks Corner, James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Awendaw, McClellanville and the surrounding areas.