Understanding the Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
The lawyers at the Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC believe in the strength and integrity of their clients. We fight diligently for the injured and their loved ones because we feel that the people of Oklahoma City need attorneys of character and integrity to be on their side every step of the way.
This diligence is especially important in wrongful death lawsuits, which can be quite complicated with regard to the statutes involved and the emotions as well.
About Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death lawsuits are filed following the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another person or party. These lawsuits will help hold that negligent party accountable for the accident or incident occurred, because the frank reality of the situation is that your loved one would still be here today had it not been for the actions or inaction of the negligent party.
In wrongful death cases, damages will be sought to address the loss of your loved one.
Damages refer to a monetary award (typically) that are paid to a person by another party for causing harm in some fashion. Because wrongful death lawsuits are brought about by the loved ones of the deceased, the damages will be used to address various losses experienced as a result of the death.
There are two kinds of damages that may be sought: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Let's examine both individually.
Compensatory damages are damages that are intended to cover actual/material losses that have been experienced as a result of the death of a loved one. This may include funerary costs, medical costs prior to death, lost wages the loved one would have earned, loss of companionship, damaged property if the fatal accident involved a collision or accident of some kind (e.g., car accident, building fire), and emotional distress.
For example, say that a loved one died in an auto accident caused by a truck driver who was driving while under the influence of a controlled substance. Compensatory damages would cover the damaged vehicle as well as funeral expenses, the emotional trauma of enduring that loss, the lost wages from the deceased, and so forth.
Assessing the Amount of Compensatory Damages
Since compensatory damages are linked to material goods and actual things, many times the assessment of compensatory damages is linked to bills or receipts. For emotional distress, which is real but not material per se, sometimes the assessment will involve bills for therapy and other services that are involved in addressing these issues.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party based on the nature of the case. These are sought when compensatory damages alone cannot address the egregious nature of the fatal incident.
Using the above example involving the truck driver, say that the trucking company hired the driver knowing that he had a history of DUIs and other moving violations that should have disqualified him from employment. In such cases, punitive damages may be sought against the trucking company given the warning signs of a problem employee who would be more likely to cause a serious accident.
Assessing the Amount of Punitive Damages
Since there are no materials involved, punitive damages are generally estimated and arrived at using similar cases in the past as a guide. The judge and jury may discuss the amount in punitive damages as part part of the deliberation process once all the evidence has been presented.
Learn More About Wrongful Death Lawsuits
For more information about your legal rights and options in wrongful death lawsuits, be sure to contact our team of attorneys today. The lawyers of Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC are here to help you in your time of legal need.