How is the Value of a Wrongful Death Claim Calculated in Massachusetts?
Wrongful death claims arise from many of the same types of incidents and accidents that result in personal injury lawsuits. In a personal injury claim, the victim has the right to seek compensation for their injuries and damages, including medical bills and emotional suffering. When someone loses a loved one due to another’s negligence or intentional conduct, they are also entitled to seek monetary recovery for their losses.
Calculating the value of a wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, with some significant differences. Unlike a personal injury case, the damages available in a wrongful death claim are based on the suffering and losses the surviving family members experience. Our Boston wrongful death lawyers will carefully examine your economic and non-economic losses.
Our team of lawyers and staff at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan provide sympathetic and professional representation to those who have lost a loved one. The death of any family member is difficult. However, if the death resulted from another’s negligent or intentional conduct, the grief is that much greater. To find closure, justice, or to hold the responsible party accountable, call our law offices at (617) 925-6407.
Wrong Death Claims in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts law, wrongful occurs when a death is caused by negligence, a reckless, willful, or wanton act, or a breach of warranty. Therefore, a wrongful death claim could arise if someone’s death was caused by a car accident, medical malpractice, or an intentional act.
There could be grounds for a wrongful death claim if the deceased, had they survived, would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, unlike a personal injury case, in a wrongful death claim, the deceased’s estate or survivors are seeking compensation for their damages.
Damages are a plaintiff’s claimed losses. In a wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff is permitted to recover compensatory damages. Our Massachusetts wrongful death attorneys will thoroughly evaluate the possible compensatory damages, including financial losses and emotional suffering, to estimate the value of a case.
The Monetary Value of a Human Life in Massachusetts
Valuing a wrongful death claim requires determining the financial value of the deceased’s life. This process is necessary and challenging. When calculating damages, our office will consider a broad range of factors. Some of the factors that could impact your recovery are listed below.
- The deceased’s age
- Their physical health at the time of the incident
- The deceased’s income and future earning capacity
- The value of any lost benefits, including a pension or 401K plan
- The age, circumstances, and health of any dependents
- The accident and nature of injuries the deceased suffered
- Medical expenses associated with treatment before the deceased died
- The pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before their death
When calculating potential damages in a wrongful death claim, our Somerville wrongful death lawyers must support any claim with evidence. An estimate is not sufficient. Our office will work closely with medical professionals, financial experts, and other witnesses to gather evidence and documentation to support your claim.
Calculating Lost Wages in a Massachusetts Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The deceased’s family is entitled to seek compensation for the lost wages and future earnings. Typically, lost income is divided into three categories.
The first is any lost income from the time of the accident until the date of death. For instance, your loved one could have been injured in a car accident and spent months in the hospital before passing away. You would be entitled to any income that would have been earned during this period. Our office would use your loved one’s actual income, such as pay stubs, to calculate the losses.
The second category includes income that the deceased would have earned if they had not been killed. This amount will depend on the age, experience, and expertise of the victim. For example, a young surgeon could expect to have increased their earning capacity as their experience grew. However, if the deceased had two years until retirement, they would have been unlikely to have seen any significant increase in wages. Our office will often work with financial and vocational experts to chart an estimated career progression.
The final category is the income lost after the deceased would have retired. This number is based on the deceased’s previous earnings, potential earning capacity, and life expectancy. If your loved one suffered from chronic medical conditions or had health problems, the potential recovery could be diminished.
Calculating Loss of Companionship and Consortium in Massachusetts
Some damages do not have receipts, bills, or bank statements to calculate the amount of financial loss a victim suffered. For example, when you lose a loved one due to wrongful death, you will suffer a loss of companionship and consortium. These intangible damages are difficult to evaluate.
The amount awarded for this type of damages is often swayed by the emotional investment a jury has in the victim and their surviving family members. For example, many people sympathize with the devastating effect the loss of a parent has on a young child. Losing the guidance and companionship a parent provides during a child’s formative years is a significant emotional loss and is often compensated.
To demonstrate the loss you suffered, you will have to provide evidence that speaks to the relationship you had with the deceased. Our Wakefield wrongful death lawyers will look to establish the nature of your daily interactions, intimacy, and conversations. For example, evidence of your living arrangements, time spent together, tasks the deceased performed, and that they were a caregiver to your children will help demonstrate the level of suffering and loss their untimely death caused.
Our Massachusetts Wrongful Death Attorneys Are Available to Evaluate Your Case
The damages associate with a wrongful death claim are challenging to value. Our knowledgeable Malden wrongful death lawyers have the experience, compassion, and resources to provide you and your family the professional legal representation you require. Contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 to schedule a free consultation.