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Understanding Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

By Matthew Golitko on September 27, 2018

A gavelA wrongful death is a type of fatality that occurs as the result of the negligence or actions of another party.

A wrongful death carries great emotional and financial burden, sometimes leaving families without a means of financial support. Filing a wrongful death claim gives immediate family members the chance to ease financial burdens by recovering damages associated with the loss of a loved one.

At Golitko & Daly, our attorneys work diligently to help families recover damages in wrongful death cases in Indianapolis, IN. We are ready to help you in your family's time of need.

Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

There are different types of damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case. These damages are categorized as actual damages or punitive damages. Actual damages are further categorized as economic or non-economic.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages in wrongful death cases include damages with real monetary value. In other words, economic damages can be objectively verified and calculated from documentation or records, such as salary at time of death or medical bills. 

Examples of Economic Damages

Economic damages cover a wide range of losses. Some common economic damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case include:

  • Medical costs: Medical costs may include any expenses incurred in trying to save the decedent’s life or treating the injuries or illness related to the wrongful death claim.
  • Funeral expenses: Family members filing a wrongful death claim may seek compensation for funeral expenses, including burial or cremation fees.
  • Loss of present and future earnings: The death of a family member can leave a family unable to afford their monthly expenses, especially if the decedent is the primary income earner. Accordingly, the decedent’s current and future earnings may be sought in a wrongful death claim.
  • Loss of services provided by the decedent: Loss of services claimed in a wrongful death case include services the decedent provided to the family. This may include childcare services, landscaping, or some other service that will need to be provided by someone else at a financial cost.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are different from economic damages in that they cannot be objectively calculated. Non-economic damages aim to put a monetary value on non-tangible things, such as pain and suffering. Determining the monetary value of non-economic damages is subjective and often decided by a judge.

The following are some examples of non-economic damages that may be sought in a wrongful death case: 

  • Loss of parental relationship: The loss of a parent can have a significant impact on both minor and grown children. A loss of parental nurturing, guidance, and love may qualify as a non-economic damages.
  • Loss of marital relationship: The surviving spouse may seek to recover damages for the loss of his or her marital relationship and the emotional distress that the death of a spouse brings, such as loss of love, emotional support, and sexual intimacy.
  • Loss of love and companionship: Compensation for the loss of love and companionship, whether in a spouse, parent, or both, may be sought in a wrongful death case.
  • Mental anguish: The mental anguish, grief, depression, and other emotional distress felt when a loved one is a victim of wrongful death may be included as non-economic damages.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are damages meant to punish the party responsible for the wrongful death and also serve to discourage the liable party from repeating the action or inaction that caused the wrongful death.  

Not all wrongful death cases will be awarded punitive damages, but those that do are often able to show the court that the wrongful death occurred due to the liable party acting extremely recklessly or irresponsibly.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death incident, we encourage you to speak to one of our wrongful death attorneys to protect your rights. Call (317) 566-9600 to schedule your consultation.

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