The sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one can leave a family reeling. Not only will they no longer be able to hear their loved one’s laugh, celebrate holidays and life milestones and lean on them when they are in need of emotional support, but these families can also be left with extensive financial losses. Their lost loved one may have contributed a significant amount of income to the family, and the deceased individual’s medical expenses and funeral costs can be heavy burdens for these surviving families to carry.
Of course, if an individual’s death was caused by the negligence of another, then a wrongful death lawsuit is justified. To succeed on one of these claims a family must prove that the individual’s death was caused by negligence and that financial harm was suffered as a result. However, even once liability is imposed, then a family must prove the extent of their damages before compensation is awarded.
Yet, the process might not be over even once a jury awards compensation. In fact, the judge presiding over a wrongful death case has the ability to reduce an awarded amount if the circumstances justify it. This often happens when a deceased individual is shown to have squandered his or her money, or in situations where the deceased had low earnings despite his or her potential to earn more in the years to come.
So what does this mean to families pursuing a wrongful death claim? It means that they need to ensure that they present the best evidence possible to show their losses. This may include medical and business records, as well as testimony from witnesses who knew the deceased individual best. A competent attorney may be able to help surviving family members develop their claim to show the true extent of their losses, which, for surviving family members, could make all the difference in their financial future.
Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful Death Overview,” accessed on March 19, 2017