How Much Are Wrongful Death Cases Worth?
The loss of a loved one is an incredibly difficult situation for family members, and no amount of money can truly make up for the pain and suffering. However, it can help ease the financial burden resulting from their death.
Determining the value of a wrongful death claim can be complex, as various factors come into play. Some of the most common factors that affect the worth of a wrongful death claim include the following:
The Decedent’s Income and Earning Capacity
One of the primary considerations when valuing a wrongful death claim is the lost income and earning capacity of the deceased. This includes any future wages that would have been earned had they not passed away, as well as any other sources of financial support they may have provided to their family or dependents.
Factors like age, education level, job prospects, and salary will all be taken into account when determining how much a family is entitled to receive from a wrongful death lawsuit.
Medical and Funeral Expenses
A wrongful death claim may also seek compensation for medical expenses incurred by the deceased before their death and any funeral expenses. These costs can vary greatly depending on the nature of the illness or injury that led to their death.
Loss of Consortium, Support, and Services
The surviving family members of a deceased loved one may be entitled to compensation for the loss of their companionship, emotional support, and services.
This can include the loss of a spouse’s companionship, a parent’s guidance, or the services a family member provided, such as childcare or household management. The value of this aspect of the claim depends on the nature of the relationship between the deceased and the surviving family members.
Pain and Suffering
In some cases, the surviving family members may be entitled to damages for the pain and suffering they’ve experienced as a result of losing their loved one.
In some wrongful death cases, punitive damages may be awarded as a way to punish the responsible party for their actions and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. These damages are intended to make an example of the offender and discourage them – as well as anyone else who might consider similar behavior – from repeating their actions. This can be important in order to ensure justice is served and avoid any additional grief caused by similar incidents.
Punitive damages are not tied to the actual losses suffered by the family but are instead based on the severity of the defendant’s misconduct.
According to South Carolina Law, “punitive damages can only be awarded where the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence the defendant’s misconduct was willful, wanton, or in reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s rights.”
There is no formula or standard that can be used as a measure for assessing punitive damages. However, factors relevant to consideration of punitive damages are:
- The character of the defendant’s acts;
- The nature and extent of the harm to plaintiff which defendant caused or intended to cause;
- Defendant’s degree of culpability;
- The punishment that should be imposed;
- Duration of the conduct;
- Defendant’s awareness or concealment;
- The existence of similar past conduct;
- Likelihood the award will deter the defendant or others from like conduct;
- Whether the award is reasonably related to the harm likely to result from such conduct; and
- Defendant’s wealth or ability to pay.
Each wrongful death case is unique, and the worth of a claim can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances involved. To get a more accurate assessment of the potential worth of a wrongful death case, you should always speak with a Charleston wrongful death attorney who can evaluate the details of the situation and provide guidance on possible outcomes. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.