Damages Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The most common types of damages recoverable in a wrongful death case are pain and suffering damages and punitive damages. There are, however, other types of damages that may be pursued in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

The following damages may be recovered in a wrongful death action:

  1. Immediate expenses associated with the death (medical & funeral):
  2. Loss of victim’s anticipated earnings in the future, up until time of retirement or death;
  3. Loss of benefits caused by the victim’s death (pension, medical coverage, etc.);
  4. Loss of inheritance caused by the untimely death;
  5. Pain and suffering or mental anguish suffered by the survivors;
  6. Loss of care, protection, companionship to the survivors (for partner, spouse, children);
  7. General damages; and
  8. Punitive damages.

Depending on the jurisdiction, some of the listed damages may be barred or restricted by statute. Also, some of the listed damages may be hard to prove and thus be considered too speculative by the court. As a result, they may be struck or restricted. Punitive damages may require a higher level of proof.

Depending on your jurisdiction, plaintiffs may be able to recover interest calculated from the time of death, the time the damages were incurred, or from the time of the filing of the lawsuit. Finally, most of the damages for future loss (such as the victim’s anticipated earnings) will be reduced to present value.

An attorney who is well-versed in wrongful death claims can assess the merits of your case and the value of the claim.

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