The family members of the deceased might bring a claim for wrongful death if the victim was killed due the negligence of the accused. The standard of proof required to prove wrongful death is lower than the standard required to prove murder. A personal representative is appointed to bring a wrongful death claim.
In order to prove the wrongful death of the victim, the following has to be fulfilled:
- Death of the victim.
- Due to the negligence or intent to harm, of the accused defendant.
- Existence of surviving family members who suffered adverse financial implications and loss of the relationship due to the death of the victim.
- Appointment of a personal representative for the victim’s estate.
Economic losses are part of the recovery in a suit for wrongful death, including loss of support, medical and funeral charges and related matters. The amount awarded – called “damages” – must adequately compensate for economic losses suffered by the surviving family. The compensation recovered, in most cases, also includea interest, starting from the date of death. Several factors have to be considered in determining the financial loss suffered. Some crucial factors are the age, life expectancy and health of the victim. Particular focus is put on the victim’s circumstances at the time of his death. For example, if a healthy young man dies, leaving behind small children, his earning capacity at the time of his death and his capacity to earn in the future will be taken into consideration when determining the compensation to be provided.
Economists may also be called at trial to estimate the value of the victim to his or her family. The surviving family may also recover additional damages if the surviving family can show that they had to incur a cost to replace the services that the deceased person provided to the household.
However, economic losses are not the end of the story. Families of deceased persons can also recover for the loss of the relationship (loss of consortium), and the loss of the value of life.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, it would be wise to consult a wrongful death attorney in order to obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve.