A Wrongful Death action may be available if the decedent would have been able to sue had he/she lived. An action may be brought against someone who caused another person’s death through wrong doing or negligence. The suit will be for the harm that would have been caused to the decedent through this action had he lived. Since the decedent is unable to make the claim on his own, a beneficiary can now make a Wrongful Death action to recover for the death of a loved one.
The beneficiary can be spouse, child, grandchild, parent, sibling, or other relative. Spouses must be spouses at law, not by common law spouses. A stepchild can only be a beneficiary if that child was adopted by the decedent prior to death. The other relatives must have been dependant on the decedent and living within the same household.
The beneficiary can make many claims for damages including sorrow and mental anguish, loss of any future income, loss of assistance and services, medical bills that were incurred before death but were results of the injury that lead to death, reasonable funeral expenses, and punitive damages.
Punitive damages are available for those who act willfully or wantonly, such as those who are Driving Under the Influence and cause an accident that results in the decedents death. The punitive damages are only available if the wrongdoer is still living because they are not meant as a compensatory damage, but as a punishment to be inflicted on the wrongdoer.
Loss of future income is determined by the wages that the decedent was currently making, the raises that would likely have taken place, and the length of time that the decedent would have continued to have worked.
What Does a Wrongful Death Action Include?
Wrongful death actions are meant to compensate the loved ones of the decedent to make the loss more tolerable and not to create more undue hardships. The damages that are to be given have to be real and not just what they would have hoped to have done. This means it does not include the inability to attend a child’s wedding at some future date as they would have liked to.