An untimely death in the family can be difficult to deal with. If you have recently lost a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, you are likely entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. But you may be wondering what that compensation will look like.
Unfortunately, it is too difficult to estimate what your potential compensation may be for your wrongful death lawsuit without examining the case. Every wrongful death claim is different, and damages can range from the hundreds of thousands into the millions depending on a number of different factors. If you are successful in your lawsuit, you and the other proper beneficiaries will be able to achieve the compensation that you require to grieve comfortably.
At Bennett & Heyman, our dedicated wrongful death lawyers are ready to provide services that can put you on the path to a substantial, discrete resolution of your case. Whether you have already decided to file or are still weighing your options, we can provide the information and assistance that you deserve. Call us at (410) 429-7856 today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Factors That May Affect Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Estimating the value of a wrongful death lawsuit requires an assessment of the circumstances of the case. Specifically, facts about the decedent, the defendant’s behavior, and the cause of death will come into play. Below are just some of the specific considerations that will affect the total compensation awarded in a successful wrongful death lawsuit.
- Deceased’s age
- Deceased’s current and future earning potential
- Deceased’s level of education or professional training
- Deceased’s health prior to the injury that caused death
- Deceased’s medical expenses related to the injury that caused death
- Deceased’s funeral costs
- Value of lost benefits (such as health insurance, pension plan, etc.)
- Number of dependents or beneficiaries
- Age and circumstances of dependents or beneficiaries
- Nature of the wrongful act
- External life insurance policy coverage
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are many areas of damages you can claim in a wrongful death case. These damages can often be broken down into economic damages for financial harms, non-economic damages for intangible harms, and punitive damages to punish the defendant for their behavior.
Economic Damages for Wrongful Death
Economic damages account for direct expenses incurred as a result of the wrongful death. The following expenses may be covered under economic damages:
- Expected earnings
- Potential inheritance
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
Non-Economic Damages for Wrongful Death
Conversely, non-economic damages refer to those harms that are not tangible or easily quantifiable. Such harms may include any or all of the following:
- Loss of care (protection, advice, nurturing)
- Mental or emotional strife of beneficiaries
- Loss of love (comfort, companionship)
Some states impose caps on non-economic damages for wrongful death lawsuits. These caps may fluctuate depending on the number of beneficiaries or the wrongful act that caused the death. To hear more about whether your recovery may be subject to a statutory cap, speak to one of our experienced Baltimore wrongful death attorneys today.
Punitive Damages for Wrongful Death
Punitive damages are awarded based on the conduct of the responsible party rather than the effects that the wrongful death had on the beneficiaries. Punitive damages are not available in every wrongful death case. Courts may choose to award punitive damages in cases where the defendant’s behavior was so reckless or indifferent to the life of the deceased that it warrants punishment. Where punitive damages are available, they may be the most substantial portion of the total damages awarded, so you should consult with your wrongful death attorney about whether they may be available in your case.
Proving Damage Calculations in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Demonstrating how much you lost financially as a result of your loved one’s untimely death can be difficult. For this reason, most wrongful death plaintiffs enlist the help of an economic expert witness. Using an expert will not only help to illustrate the scale of the loss that you and your family have suffered to a jury, but they can also give you an idea of how much you stand to gain in your lawsuit.
Using an expert is also the best way to evaluate any settlement offers that you may receive from the responsible party’s insurance company. If you are interested in learning how much you may stand to recover or have received a settlement offer and are unsure of how to proceed, Bennett & Heyman’s wrongful death attorneys can put you in touch with a trusted economic expert to help you evaluate the value of your claim.
Who Can Get Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are claims filed by the surviving family members and loved ones of the deceased to recover compensation from the responsible party for the harm that the death has caused. Whether you can be named as a beneficiary of a wrongful death lawsuit depends on your relationship to the deceased and the state that you are in.
Each state has different rules about who can recover compensation in a wrongful death suit. For instance, in Maryland, the law breaks possible beneficiaries into two tiers: primary and secondary beneficiaries. Primary beneficiaries include the deceased’s spouse, parents, or children. Wrongful death lawsuits filed by primary beneficiaries can include as many primary beneficiaries as are available, and damages will increase proportionate to the number of named beneficiaries. You must make best efforts to identify and notify all possible primary beneficiaries of their eligibility for recovery before filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Secondary beneficiaries are people who are related by blood or marriage to the deceased and were “substantially dependent” upon the deceased. Secondary beneficiaries can only file a wrongful death lawsuit if there are no surviving primary beneficiaries.
For more information on your state’s rules on who can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit, speak to one of the wrongful death attorneys at Bennett & Heyman today.
Call Us Today for an Estimate of Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit Compensation
The best way to find out what you stand to gain through your lawsuit is to speak to the respected wrongful death lawyers at Bennett & Heyman. Your first consultation is free. Schedule it today by calling (410) 429-7856.