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What Are Pecuniary Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?

Losing a loved one is a devastating experience. When someone else’s negligence causes the death, it can be even more difficult to cope. In such cases, the deceased’s family may seek compensation for their loss by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought against a person or entity responsible for the death of another individual due to their negligence or intentional harm. This type of personal injury claim aims to compensate the deceased’s surviving family members for their losses, including medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, and emotional pain and suffering. It is important to understand that wrongful death claims are separate from any criminal charges that may be filed against the responsible party.

Pecuniary Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

pecuniary damages

What are pecuniary damages in wrongful death cases? Pecuniary damages, also known as economic damages, refer to the financial losses the deceased’s family suffered due to the wrongful death. 

These damages can be categorized into the following categories:

  • Medical expenses: These include the cost of medical treatment and care provided to the deceased before their death. Medical expenses may comprise hospital bills, doctor’s fees, prescription medications, and other healthcare-related costs incurred due to the injury that led to the wrongful death.
  • Funeral and burial expenses: Funeral and burial expenses cover the costs of the deceased’s final arrangements, such as the funeral service, burial, or cremation. These expenses may vary depending on the family’s preferences and the arrangements made.
  • Loss of income and earnings capacity: One of the most significant economic damages in a wrongful death case is the loss of the deceased’s future income and earning capacity. Factors like the deceased’s age, occupation, education, and projected career trajectory are considered to calculate this. This figure may include the deceased’s wages, benefits, potential promotions, and the value of any lost pension or retirement benefits.
  • Loss of services and support: This refers to the monetary value of the services and support the deceased would have provided their family had they lived. It can include childcare, household chores, maintenance, and any other contributions the deceased would have made to their family’s well-being.

Non-Economic Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

medical malpractice

Wrongful death cases can result in significant emotional and psychological harm to surviving family members. Non-economic damages refer to the intangible losses suffered by the deceased person’s family members, including emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium. These damages are meant to compensate the family members for the emotional and psychological toll of the wrongful death.

Non-economic damages in wrongful death cases can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the laws of the state where the case is being litigated. Some states place caps on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case, but Indiana does not unless the claim is against a government agency.

In addition to non-economic damages, surviving family members may also be entitled to economic damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and funeral expenses. It is important to consult an experienced wrongful death attorney to determine the full scope of damages in a particular case.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a legal term that refers to a situation in which the deceased person contributed to their death through their own negligent actions. In a wrongful death case, if the court finds that the deceased person was partially responsible for their death, the number of damages awarded to the surviving family members may be reduced.

For example, if the deceased person was involved in a car accident and was not wearing a seatbelt, the court may find that they contributed to their injuries and death. In this case, the court may reduce the damages awarded to the surviving family members to account for the deceased person’s negligence.

Pecuniary Damages Settlements

In some cases, the parties may be able to reach a settlement agreement without going to trial. A settlement is a negotiated agreement in which the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a certain amount in exchange for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit. Settlements can be quicker and less expensive to resolve a wrongful death case, but working with an attorney is important to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

Recovering Pecuniary Damages with the Help of Crossen Law Firm

Damages for wrongful death can be complex and emotionally challenging to navigate. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact Crossen Law Firm today to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can help you understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

With over 20 years of experience fighting for those who have lost loved ones at the hands of someone else’s negligence, we have the skills necessary and are dedicated to working tirelessly to get our clients the compensation that they deserve. 

Contact us today or give us a call for a free consultation at (317) 401-8626.