The Basics of Wrongful Death Cases

by | Nov 19, 2015 | Lawyers

A wrongful death case can be brought about if a family wants to sue a person, organization or business for the death of a relative. These cases can turn into major trials involving numerous laws and elements of proof, and the calculation of damages can be complex because a plaintiff may claim more than one type of loss. Because of their complexity, many wrongful death cases end up settling out of court, which can happen before or during a trial and it can help both sides save time and money. Read on to learn how wrongful death settlements are calculated, and whether other types of damages may be available.

How Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Calculated?
A wrongful death settlement can be calculated based on certain factors, including but not limited to the following:
* The relationship between the plaintiff and the decedent
* Whether the decedent financially supported the plaintiff
* If the plaintiff and the decedent were claiming joint benefits such as health insurance or retirement assets
* Other expenses such as legal fees and funeral arrangements

Calculations can involve subjective factors such as costs of protecting the decedent or the plaintiff, or the decedent’s contributions to academic or business relations. Expert testimony is sometimes required during the calculation of damages.

Can a Plaintiff Get Punitive Damages in Wrongful Death Actions?
Some wrongful death cases include punitive damages, especially if a defendant’s conduct was very reckless or if it was intentional. Punitive damages are assessed by the discretion of the court, and they are not automatically included in settlement negotiations; however, both sides can consider certain factors, particularly in cases where a defendant’s conduct was clearly intentional. If parties cannot reach an agreeable settlement, they may have to go to trial and get a judge’s help.

Does a Plaintiff Need an Attorney During a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death claim is a major undertaking and it typically requires the help of an attorney for assistance in settlement negotiations and the determination of their legal options. Lawyers with Dulaney Lauer & Thomas, LLP can help to calculate a fair settlement, and they can represent clients during negotiations and in court.

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