Wrongful Death Damages
How much is a life worth? That’s a hard question to answer, as the real answer is that every life is priceless. Even so, the job of a Wrongful Death Lawyer is to go through all the elements of damages in a Wrongful Death claim to determine what that value is. In Massachusetts, Claims for Wrongful Death are governed by a statute, M.G.L. c. 229. Damages are discussed in Section 2, and they’re different from damages in a normal tort claim.Standard Wrongful Death Damages
The beneficiaries of a Wrongful Death Action are allowed to recover for certain damages as listed in the Wrongful Death Statute. These include:
- Reasonable Expected Net Income: This is the amount that beneficiaries would benefit from the earnings that your loved one would have earned. This is different from lost wages or lost earning capacity, as it is instead the amount the beneficiary would have received. This is usually applied when someone passes away with a spouse and/or young children who are dependents
- Consortium-Type Damages: This describes the loss of the familial relationship that you had with your loved one. Whether it’s a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, this category of damages is dependent on the relationship you had.
- Funeral & Burial Expenses: Though relatively minor when compared to other categories of damages, the family would be entitled to the costs of a funeral and a burial.
- Medical Expenses: If your loved one incurred medical expenses as a result of the Defendant’s negligence before passing away, you would be able to make such a claim, with certain limitations.
- Punitive Damages: If you can show that the person who caused your loved one’s death acted maliciously, willfully, wantonly, recklessly, or with gross negligence, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
The interesting part of a Wrongful Death claim is that there is no automatic claim for “pain and suffering.” You would have to show that your loved one suffered in order to bring a parallel claim at the same time. This is authorized by Section 6 of the Wrongful Death Statute.
To make a claim for Conscious Pain and Suffering, it’s important to show that your loved one did not die instantly. For example, if someone was walking on the sidewalk with headphones on when he/she was hit by a car, you would need to show that your loved one did not die immediately on impact. If you were able to show that your loved one was alive while flying in the air, that would be sufficient for Conscious Pain and Suffering. Similarly, if your loved one was injured, was trying to flag down help, and then succumbed from the injuries, that would also show Conscious Pain and Suffering.
It’s a very morbid thing to think about, but that’s what an effective Wrongful Death Attorney does.Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers
At Marcotte Law Firm, we have represented many families whose loved ones have been taken due to the negligence of someone else. Whether it’s in a Car Accident, Work Accident, or in any other situation, a family’s path in life changes in the blink of an eye. We understand all that comes with these devastating situations, and we do our best to guide you through with compassion and common sense.
If you lost a loved one, call the experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys at Marcotte Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.