In addition to a wrongful death case, an eligible person may also be compensated for the harm caused to the deceased prior to the time of his death. For example, it may be that the deceased experienced pain before his death or experienced anxiety and stress from knowing that he was going to die. Naturally, the amount of compensation paid as a result of the harm suffered by the deceased would tend to be greater the longer the deceased was alive after the defendant did the actions causing death.
For wrongful death claims brought by children of the deceased, they can recover for money they would have received had the deceased continued to provide for them, and they can recover for damages they suffer as a result of losing their father or mother’s guidance and attention. Contact one of our attorneys.
A common case of wrongful death involves a car accident in which the deceased was not at fault. If the death was caused by a doctor’s error, then the case would be described as a medical malpractice case, and the applicable law would be different. Murder is also the basis for a wrongful death case, but it is much more common for a wrongful death case to be based on negligence because most homicides are accidental. There is an important distinction between lawsuits arising from intentional versus accidental death. A death that was caused intentionally or with great recklessness can allow for the recovery of exemplary damages. Exemplary damages, or punitive damages, are an award of money that is designed to punish the defendant, rather than to compensate the victim. The rule of thumb is that punitive damages should not exceed a single-digit multiple of the amount of compensatory damages. If the punitive damages exceed that amount, then a judge may reduce the damages award after trial. In other words, if a jury awards punitive damages for more than 10 times the amount of compensatory damages then that full amount may not stand up.
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Compensatory damages are damages that are designed to make the plaintiff whole, or put the plaintiff back where he or she was before the incident giving rise to the lawsuit. In a case where the dispute is over money or property (like a breach of contract case), it is pretty easy to determine what the compensatory damages are because you just measure the amount of lost money. In a San Diego wrongful death case, it gets more complicated because it is difficult to put a monetary value on the companionship and love that are lost as a result of a wrongful death.
Filing a wrongful death case can be useful not only to obtain monetary compensation for the family of the deceased, but also to give the family a sense that the person who caused the death is being punished. Often times, if a wrongful death case is brought as a result of a negligent or unintentional death, no criminal case will be filed. Pursuing a wrongful death case can give the family a sense that justice is being done, advised a San Diego personal injury lawyer.
By Douglas Gilliland