When a spouse, parent, or child dies unexpectedly because a person or business acted negligently, his or her survivors may be entitled to damages from the liable party for their emotional pain and suffering, as well as the financial suffering they experience due to loss of the deceased’s income.
While these damages all relate to losses after the death, there may also be considerable expenses accrued between the moment of the accident and the death. In a wrongful death claim, survivors are also entitled to recover these damages.
Wrongful Death Claims Are Similar to Personal Injury Claims
It's not easy to understand when survivors have a legitimate claim for wrongful death damages. After all, every loss of a loved one feels wrong. However, this type of claim is a specific legal action that must meet certain requirements.
In general, a wrongful death claim can be made if the victim could have filed a personal injury claim had he survived. When the accident is caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of another, the victim has a right to be compensated for his losses and, in the case of his death, his family has the right to be compensated for their losses.
What happens, then, to the expenses accrued between the time of the accident and the victims’ death? Those also become part of the wrongful death claim.
Recovering Medical Costs and the Victim’s Other Losses
Car crashes and other major accidents don’t always cause instant death. In many cases, the victim survives the accident and is rushed to the hospital for emergency medical care. In critical cases, car accident victims are sometimes even airlifted by medical helicopter to the hospital. Doctors will go to extreme lengths to try to save the victim, and he may even survive for days or weeks before finally succumbing to his injuries.
During this time, the victim is likely suffering from pain and mental anguish, as are his family members. Some accident victims are kept on life support while difficult decisions are made. These life-saving efforts are extremely costly and, when the victim dies, his estate becomes liable for the costs.
If the accident that led to his injuries and ultimately his death was caused by another party, he clearly cannot file a personal injury claim to be compensated for the losses. This is where a wrongful death claim may come in. While the deceased’s health insurance policy may have covered some of the expense, eligible family members can also file a claim to recover additional costs from the liable party.
What Damages Can Be Recovered?
After the death of your loved one, a wrongful death attorney can help you determine if you're eligible to take legal action to recover losses on his behalf.
If you do have a legitimate claim, you may be able to recover for the following medical costs:
- Doctor fees
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Medical transportation
- Emergency room treatment
- Any other medical expense
You'll be required to provide evidence of these expenses, so you need copies of all bills and proof of payment for any of them already been settled.
You may also be able to recover the following damages on behalf of your loved one:
- His physical pain and suffering before death
- His mental and emotional suffering before death
- Wages lost between the time of the accident and death
- Funeral and burial expenses
These damages can be harder to prove, but an experienced wrongful death attorney will gather the necessary evidence and file for all applicable damages.
Damages Incurred After the Death
Wrongful death damages are also intended to compensate surviving family members for the financial losses they will suffer as a result of the death, including money the deceased would have earned were it not for the untimely incident. Immediate family members may also seek damages for the “loss of consortium,” or loss of the guidance, support, and companionship of that person.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys to Discuss Your Case
If you think you have a wrongful death claim following the loss of a loved one, contact our Kansas City attorneys to learn more about how these claims work. We know you are suffering after your tragic loss and we are here to help.