Nothing can be more devastating than the loss of a loved one. Wrongful death is a term used to describe a situation in which someone’s negligence results in another person’s death. Sometimes, negligence results in an injury that later leads to death, but the untimely death of that person is still the direct result of the negligent party’s action. The damages in wrongful death cases differ significantly from those of typical personal injury cases and, therefore, require a specialized approach from a dedicated and experienced trial lawyer.
When you unexpectedly lose a loved one, you enter a dark and trying time. Consequently, lawyers handling wrongful death claims should maintain the highest standards of both professionalism and sensitivity. Here at the Law Offices of Stephen A. Burroughs in Knoxville, Tennessee, we are able to handle these difficult cases delicately and discreetly, as we try to assist you through your difficult situation.
Wrongful death is the term used when someone causes the death of another person. The death may be caused by the actions of someone or by their failure to act (neglect). Wrongful death is a civil action rather than a criminal action. Since the person killed (decedent) cannot file suit or collect damages, it is the family or representatives of the estate that do so. The intent is to compensate family members who have suffered from the loss of a loved one. Damages can be assessed for lost wages and benefits, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering caused by the trauma.
A defendant can only be held responsible for a wrongful death if it can be proved that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of the death. It must be proved that the death would not have occurred without the defendant’s act. The time between the defendant’s action and the death of the decedent is not a factor as long as it can be proved that the defendant’s action was the cause of death.
If it can be shown that the decedent was partially responsible for his or her death, then he or she may be found to have comparative or contributory negligence. In many states, including Tennessee, even if the decedent was partially at fault in causing their own death, damages may still be awarded, with such damages being reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the decedent.
Different states have different methods for deciding who may file a wrongful death suit and who may recover damages. Generally, it must be shown that the death was caused by another’s wrongful act; that the act was such that the decedent would have been due damages from the act; and that monetary damages did arise from the act. If these three criteria are met, it is possible that a wrongful death claim can be filed.
In a case of wrongful death, damages are assessed to compensate family members for their loss. There are many ways in which damages can be calculated. Since damages can be awarded in a number of areas, it is important to examine each one carefully.
The most obvious loss in a case of wrongful death is the actual expense occasioned by medical and death expenses. These are usually easy to determine.
Less obvious but equally important is the loss of future earnings and benefits, as well as the loss of companionship. These damages are more difficult to calculate and include anticipating the lifespan and earnings of the decedent, as well as the relationship to remaining family members.
Loss of companionship is very difficult to calculate since it is totally subjective and does not lend itself to empirical measurements. It is a measure of the emotional pain and suffering experienced by the survivors.
A final area of damages is punitive damages. This is an amount awarded to punish the person who caused the death, rather than to compensate for a specific loss. It can typically only be awarded when the action of the defendant was intentional or grossly negligent.
What You Need To Know:
Insurance companies’ obligations are to their stockholders and policy holders, not to the people injured by their insured’s negligence. Insurance companies’ desire to maximize their own profits provides them with every motivation to try to deny your claim or pay you the very minimum amount that they can get away with. The insurance companies also have enormous advantages: they have immense wealth, armies of experienced adjusters and lawyers and years of experience reducing and denying claims.
At the Law Office of Stephen A. Burroughs, our only obligation is to you, our client. We will use our experience and every resource available to protect your interests, and we will work hard to help you receive the full value for your case. We will advise you every step of the way to help you avoid any mistakes that could cost you money. There is no charge for attorney’s fees until you recover money for your personal injuries, and we will also help you resolve your property damage claims for no fee whatsoever. For assistance, call today at 1-877-300-3773, contact us or submit an free online case evaluation.