In a wrongful death claim, the family members of an individual who died as a result of another’s negligence are entitled to compensatory damages for their losses as beneficiaries. This includes economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are more easily quantified, whereas noneconomic damages are intangible and can be more difficult to quantify.
The types of recoverable non-economic damages can vary by state. For example, in New York, noneconomic damages may not be available, save for the deceased’s pain and suffering prior to death. Only the pecuniary loss of the beneficiaries may be recovered. In other states, loss of companionship, guidance and consortium may be considered when awarding compensatory damages to surviving family members.
While economic damages generally are not capped, allowing families to recover any financial loss they experience as a result of the deceased’s injury and ultimate death, some states also have caps on recoverable noneconomic damages.
Loss of Companionship
Loss of companionship occurs when a person suffers the loss of a close family member – such as a spouse, child or parent. It is hard to put a dollar amount on this type of emotional damage, but it often is based on the tightness of the bond the family members shared.
For example, a husband separated from his wife may not receive compensation for loss of companionship after his wife’s wrongful death if the relationship did not offer much companionship at the time of death. On the other hand, a husband who has a close bond with his wife may receive compensation for loss of companionship after his wife’s wrongful death.
Loss of Guidance
Children may pursue loss of guidance damages to compensate them for the loss of a parent that they depended on for support and guidance. A younger child is more likely to receive a larger amount of compensation than an older child simply because the younger a child is when a parent dies, the less opportunity the child has had to receive guidance from the parent.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is also a form of compensation based on the grief that loved ones experience after the death of a family member. Although surviving spouses, children and parents may be eligible to recover this type of emotional damage in some states, it is most often given to spouses because it is often referred to as loss of sexual relations within a marriage.
In order to claim loss of consortium after a wrongful death, the most private details of the couple’s marriage likely will undergo close scrutiny. This is so the judge and jury can determine if the marriage was a loving, happy one or one where the spouses were estranged and engaged in very little physical closeness.
Consult an Attorney at Gacovino Lake & Associates
It is important to make sure family members such as spouses and children recover fair compensation after a loved one’s death. There may be issues that need to be addressed when calculating noneconomic compensatory damages such as the individual’s relationship with the deceased, so it’s important to work with an attorney. Evidence that sheds light on the nature of the relationship may be used to establish entitlement to noneconomic damages such as those mentioned above.
An attorney at Gacovino Lake & Associates can assist clients with their wrongful death cases. Call us today at 800-246-4878 for a free consultation regarding your case and recoverable damages under state law.