What Damages Are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Massachusetts?
A wrongful death suit is a lawsuit filed by the surviving family because of someone else’s death. Wrongful death suits can be complicated because plaintiffs may sue on behalf of decedents and surviving family members. There are a variety of damages that may be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit. Before beginning your lawsuit, you should speak with an attorney about what kind of damages you can claim in your case.
Wrongful death lawsuits can involve damages for decedents’ estate in addition to surviving family members. When suing for damages for a decedent’s estate, the estate is awarded compensation, and that compensation will descend according to the decedent’s will. There may also be an opportunity to claim punitive damages, which are designed to punish defendants. However, punitive damages are barred in most circumstances and may be more limited.
If you sadly lost a loved one in an accident or because of someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to get just compensation. Our Massachusetts wrongful death attorneys can help you file your lawsuit and assess the damages you can claim. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 to set up a free, private legal consultation about your case.
Economic Damages in a Wrongful Death Case in Massachusetts
Damages for wrongful death lawsuits can be found under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 229 § 2. As with many other kinds of lawsuits, economic damages may be claimed as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. However, these damages will be based on how the decedent passed away and what kind of expenses were incurred as a result of the death. In some cases, there are few economic damages, especially when the death is sudden or instantaneous, and medical care is not necessary. In other cases, economic damages may be very high, such as when a person dies after being provided extensive medical care.
Economic damages can include the costs of a funeral and any medical expenses related to the death of your loved one. For example, suppose your loved one was injured in a car accident and taken to a hospital before they passed away. In that case, the hospital bills and the loss of your loved one’s vehicle can be included as economic damages.
You may also include the lost earnings of the decedent, including lost future earnings. In many cases, a decedent was the primary breadwinner of their household, and without the decedent’s financial support, the household would struggle. When someone dies, their family will miss out on potential years of income that the decedent would have otherwise earned.
Damages like lost earnings and other forms of financial support can be difficult to determine as they involve money that could have been earned but never will be. You must consider factors like the trajectory of your loved one’s career and their projected earning potential. If your loved one was likely to enjoy a successful and lucrative career, you might be able to claim more damages.
Our Boston wrongful death lawyers can help you calculate the economic damages related to your loved one’s death.
Damages for the Victim’s Family in a Wrongful Death Case in Massachusetts
Wrongful death cases are unique because they allow people other than the decedent to claim damages. Under the statute mentioned previously, claimants may claim damages related to economic losses related to the decedent’s passing and non-economic losses. In many wrongful death lawsuits, non-economic damages tend to include the emotional pain and suffering associated with grieving the loss of a family member.
In wrongful death lawsuits, pain and suffering are defined more specifically. For example, the spouse of a decedent may claim loss of consortium and companionship as part of their non-economic damages. Similarly, a decedent’s children could be awarded damages for a loss of parental guidance. The precise nature of your non-economic damages may depend on your relationship with the decedent. Typically, children will claim somewhat different damages than spouses. However, the statute provides a non-exhaustive list of damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit, including loss of companionship, consortium, guidance, protection, care, society, and more.
You are likely going through an extremely difficult time after the loss of a loved one. Your grief and pain should not go unnoticed by the court. Our Cambridge wrongful death lawyers will help you get compensation for all your damages.
Punitive Damages in Massachusetts Wrongful Death Cases
Punitive damages are different from other damages because they are not designed to compensate the plaintiff but are instead meant to punish the defendant. Rules on punitive damages vary greatly by state, and Massachusetts bars the recovery of punitive damages in all cases except wrongful death.
Even so, punitive damages are not awarded in every wrongful death case. To be awarded punitive damages, you must prove that your loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s gross negligence or evil conduct. Ordinary negligence is not enough to justify punitive damages.
Gross negligence is required for punitive damages, but a legal definition of the term is hard to pin down. Generally, gross negligence has been accepted to mean negligence that is significantly greater in magnitude than ordinary negligence. The defendant’s negligence should be so great that their behavior is downright shocking.
If you believe your case warrants punitive damages, talk to our Wakefield wrongful death attorneys about your case. Our team can help you get all the compensation you rightly deserve for your loved one’s death.
Call Our Massachusetts Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you lost a loved one due to the actions of another, you can sue for wrongful death. Our Somerville wrongful death attorneys can help you claim all possible damages in your case. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 to set up a free, private legal consultation about your case.