There is plenty that you have to deal with in the event that you have someone in your family suffer a wrongful death. Of course, you have to make preparations for everything that comes after a family member’s death and inform everyone in your family about what has happened. However, this is just one part of dealing with a wrongful death that has affected you. It is also important to keep in mind the fact that, since it was a wrongful death, you can often get some kind of damages as a result. Here is what you need to know about damages that are available to you if you are a beneficiary of wrongful death.
What Are Damages?
It is important to start off by talking about exactly what damages are before going into how much you would receive as a wrongful death beneficiary. In this sense, damages are the monetary compensation that you would receive because a court involved in a civil action awarded you this compensation as a result of the fact that someone else acted wrongfully. You are paid this money because the court determines that you were harmed in some way by the other person’s wrongful actions.
There are many different kinds of legal damages. In this situation, the most relevant type of legal damages is known as compensatory damages. This means that the person who committed the wrongful action is liable to you for the direct and natural consequences of the wrongful act that they have committed. The harm that you suffered as a result of the other person’s wrongful act does not have to be physical in order for you to receive damages. You can receive damages as a result of enduring mental suffering and pain because of the wrongful act of another person.
One more thing that you should know about damages in this instance is that you can get compensatory damages for the physical pain and suffering you are experiencing now, in addition to future suffering and physical pain. However, it is important to point out that you may only receive compensation for future suffering in the event that it is likely you will go through this pain in the future. You cannot get compensation for future suffering and pain if it is unclear if you will actually experience it. The jury for your case enjoys broad discretion to give you damages for suffering and pain.
What Is Wrongful Death?
It also makes sense to go over the legal definition of wrongful death before getting into how much compensation a wrongful death beneficiary might receive. As far as wrongful death goes, it means that someone was killed as a result of another person or persons’ wrongful conduct. In the event that this does happen, the heirs or other kinds of beneficiaries of the person who was killed have the legal right to file a wrongful death suit against the people who are responsible for the wrongful death. The state statutes govern wrongful death actions, and they can differ from state to state.
There are many different kinds of wrongful deaths that can occur. One of the most common types of wrongful death is medical errors and this involves a medical professional making a mistake of some kind that leads to wrongful death. Car accidents that lead to death and drunk driving are two more possible causes of wrongful death. You will also find that another potential cause of wrongful death is hazardous prescription drugs. Neglect at a nursing home is another possible cause of wrongful death and this is most common when dealing with the wrongful death of older people.
It is also a good idea to discuss who is allowed to sue as a result of wrongful death. As previously mentioned, state statutes are the governing factor behind wrongful death suits, so who can sue may vary from state to state. However, in general, quite a few of these state statutes allow the living spouse, children, and next of kin to sue for wrongful death. In some states, a living spouse can bring a wrongful death suit even if the spouse and the person who suffered a wrongful death have separated. This is not the case if the living spouse failed to support the person they separated from or deserted them, however.
Is Anyone Immune From A Wrongful Death Suit?
As long as there is no legal exception, the beneficiaries have the ability to sue anyone responsible for the injuries that led to the wrongful death in the case. However, there are some legal exceptions. One exception to wrongful death lawsuits is family members of the person who died wrongfully, and this exception is called family immunity, meaning that someone cannot be sued by members of their own family. It is worth noting that many states have gotten rid of family immunity, so this is only an applicable legal exception in some cases.
You should also know that state and local governments are often immune from wrongful death lawsuits. This is because of the fact that states have what is called sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that prevents lawsuits against the government. Quite a few states have decided not to claim sovereign immunity to get out of wrongful death lawsuits since the 1960s. However, the state does still possess this ability to claim sovereign immunity if it so wishes.
Who Are The Beneficiaries In A Wrongful Death Action?
It is also important to determine who the beneficiaries are when discussing a wrongful death action. One of the beneficiaries, in this case, is the spouse of the person who suffered a wrongful death. Another possible beneficiary of a wrongful death action is the domestic partner, as long as this person is registered as the domestic partner of the person who died wrongfully with the state.
Additionally, as you might expect, the child or children of the person who suffered a wrongful death are also classified as beneficiaries. Any stepchildren of the person who suffered a wrongful death are beneficiaries. In the event that the person who suffered a wrongful death does not have a spouse, domestic partner registered with the state, or children, the beneficiaries are the person’s siblings or their parents.
How Long Do You Have To File A Wrongful Death Claim?
The amount of time that you have in order to file a wrongful death claim can vary from state to state. However, for Tacoma residents, the state of Washington mandates that you file a wrongful death claim within three years of the date that the wrongful death occurred. In the event that you fail to file a wrongful death claim within this three-year period, it is extremely likely that the court will not even hear your case.
What Kind Of Damages Can You Get As A Wrongful Death Beneficiary In Tacoma?
One important thing to point out about wrongful death claims in the state of Washington is that these damages are paid to the estate of the person that suffered a wrongful death. In the event that the person who died wrongfully was a minor, the parents would receive these damages. There are many kinds of damages that you may be able to get as a beneficiary in a wrongful death case when you work with wrongful death attorneys.
One of the kinds of damages that you might be able to get as a beneficiary is the final medical bills of the person who suffered a wrongful death. You can receive compensation for these last medical bills as a result of the fact that the deceased person incurred these costs as the result of the wrongful actions of another person. This is just one type of damages that you can receive as a beneficiary in a wrongful death action, though.
Funeral and burial expenses are another part of the damages that you can receive as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit. This part of the damages is relatively straightforward, as well. Since the death resulted as a consequence of someone’s wrongful action, the court often awards you compensation for the funeral and burial expenses since you should not have had to incur these expenses in the first place. Another part of the damages you may get as a beneficiary in a wrongful death action are the lost income and wages that the person would probably have earned if they had not died wrongfully.
This is just one part of the damages that you might get. Another part of the damages you might get is the damages related to the suffering and pain that the deceased person went through as a result of the injury and eventual wrongful death. You may also get damaged because of any costs that are associated with damaged property. This is something that could happen in the event that some property suffered damage as a result of wrongful death. You may also get damages for the loss of companionship, care, or other kinds of intangible benefits that the deceased person’s family suffered.
How much you could get in damages depends on who is filing the wrongful death claim. The spouse, children, or domestic partner might be able to get damages for loss of companionship and care, for example. However, a personal representative might not be able to get these damages if they are acting on behalf of the deceased person’s estate.