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Damages Awarded in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death damage awards compensate family members and the estate for pain, suffering and monetary loss.Though they are usually filed together, claims arising out of fatal accidents typically present two types of claims, each with distinct types of damage awards: (1) "Wrongful Death" Actions; and (2) "Survival" Actions.



Wrongful Death Actions

The nature of damages awarded in fatality cases typically depends upon the plaintiff's relationship with the deceased, providing compensation for the emotional pain and suffering occasioned by the tragedy, as well as compensation for the economic loss sustained by a person dependent upon the victim's future income.

Spouse of Deceased

In determining the damages which will reasonably and adequately compensate the spouse of the deceased as a result of the death, jurors must consider both economic and non-economic losses.

The economic losses to be considered include the financial support as well as the replacement value of the services that the deceased furnished or probably could have been expected to furnish. You may consider the deceased's earnings and future earning capacity for the probable time both had been expected to live to determine the amount that the surviving spouse could reasonably have expected to receive.

The non-economic losses to be considered are the mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, attention, advice or counsel the surviving spouse has experienced or probably will experience in the future.

Parent of Deceased Child

In determining the damages which will reasonably and adequately compensate each parent as a result of the death of their child jurors must consider both economic and non-economic losses.

The economic losses to be considered are any financial benefits a parent probably would have been expected to receive from the deceased child.

The non-economic losses to be considered are the mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and the loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, attention, advice, counsel or guidance, a parent has experienced or probably will experience in the future.

Minor Child of Deceased Parent

In determining the damages which will reasonably and adequately compensate [each] [a] surviving child of a deceased parent as a result of the death of a parent jurors must consider both economic and non-economic losses.

The economic losses to be considered include the financial support as well as the replacement value of the services that the deceased furnished or probably would have been expected to furnish.

The non-economic losses to be considered are the mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, parental care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance or education which the child has experienced or probably will experience in the future.

Survival Actions

Damages Awarded to the Victim's Estate

In determining the damages to be awarded to the estate of the deceased as a result of the death jurors must consider both economic and non-economic losses.

The economic losses to be considered include the fair and reasonable medical expenses which were incurred by the deceased, and the loss of earnings from the time of injury to the time of death. Jurors must also consider the funeral expenses up to $5,000.

The non-economic losses to be considered are any conscious pain, suffering or mental anguish that the deceased experienced as a result of the injury until death [and any punitive damages for which the jury finds the defendant responsible.