Financial or pecuniary injury is the primary means of gauging the damages in a wrongful death suit. According to courts, financial or pecuniary injuries involve the loss of services, support, the loss of the prospect of receiving inheritance, as well as medical and funeral expenses for the decedent. Federal and state laws provide that the surviving victims be given fair and just compensation for the pecuniary loss endured because of the decedent's death. Should there be distributes who also helped shoulder expenses, then they can also recover for those. Lastly, the compensation awarded to the surviving family members will include interest starting from the date of death.
Determining Financial or Pecuniary Losses
When the court determines the pecuniary loss following the death of the decedent, they consider the following:
- Age of the decedent
- Character and condition of the decedent
- Life expectancy, health of the decedent
- Intelligence of the decedent
- Circumstances and situation of the distributes
While it seems to be straightforward, it really is a complex task because this will determine the actual damages that the survivors are to be awarded. More often than not, the considerations are based on the decedent's circumstances at the time of his or her death. As an example, if an adult, wage-earning parent dies, then the damage will consist of the loss of income as well as the loss of guidance from a parent. As such, the court may take a look at the decedent's income at the time of death (or the last known income if unemployed at the time of death), as well as potential earnings.
Adjustments Made in the Jury's Reward
During a wrongful death case, the jury examines the evidences and testimonies surrounding the incident, and will then determine the size of the reward. However, this is not always the final word, as the court has the power to adjust the reward up or down depending on a number of reasons. An example of which is that a decedent who squandered his or her income may result in his or her survivors to receive a smaller amount of compensation. Or, if the decedent was a low income earner at the time of death, but whose qualities and skills show he or she had great potential, then his or her survivors may receive a higher amount based on what he or she would have earned.
There are also punitive damages being rewarded in order to punish the responsible party and deter other individuals from behaving the same way. There states that typically do not award punitive damages in a wrongful death case, so it is best to consult with your lawyer to know what is applicable for you.
If you have suffered a death in your family under the hands of a negligent or misbehaving individual, then you may be entitled to file for a wrongful death case to recover damages. Contact The Kyle Law Firm to set an appointment and our team of lawyers will help you with your concerns.