The death of a loved one brings emotional and often financial struggles. The pain of losing a person, the cost of funeral arrangements and the lost income can put a severe burden on the survivors.
At times, someone’s negligence may be the cause of an unexpected and avoidable death. In such cases of wrongful death, surviving family members may be able to receive compensation.
Those who can receive compensation
State law dictates a hierarchy for who can file wrongful death claims. Such cases take place in civil court. The individuals who may bring suit are the following, in order:
- The surviving spouse
- The deceased’s children
- An authorized representative of the deceased’s estate
- The parents of the deceased
The parents’ claim may depend on if the deceased individual depended on the parents at the time of death.
Considerations for compensation
The awards after a death are to help cover the financial burdens the loss incurs. For example, the lost wages and future earning capacity are a factor. The “pecuniary value of life” even includes the deprivation of companionship, guidance and love toward the family.
While such intangibles may seem hard to measure and are truly incalculable, the court often attempts to compensate the family for these losses. The state has a $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages for things like pain and suffering. The cap raises to $1 million for the death of a child.
A family should keep records of all medical, funeral and burial expenses that resulted from the incident. Such expenditures might be for items such as medications, surgery, a casket and transportation. There is no monetary cap limit on calculable economic expenses.
Nothing can replace losing a loved one. Compensation for wrongful death is simply a method for assuaging difficulties in a family’s time of need.