Wrongful death claims are similar to personal injury cases to some degree, especially in the state of New York where the personal injury claim of a decedent is actually combined with the wrongful death actions. The elements of the claim will begin with the pecuniary damages that would have been given to the decedent had they lived along with necessary funeral expenses.
A wrongful death action is about how the family is impacted and focused on the level of negligence exhibited by the defendant. There are some specific damages that can be requested for the family beyond the traditional personal injury claim elements.
Loss of consortium
One of the primary damages in a wrongful death claim is for loss of consortium. This is primarily for the legal spouse of the decedent, but minor children have an associated loss of relationship with a parent as well.
Loss of financial support
This is a financial claim that can be requested on behalf of the entire family in many wrongful death actions, especially when the decedent was married with dependent children and was a primary household income provider. The earning capacity of the decedent can impact the total amount of this particular financial recovery item.
The final and probably most valuable component is general damage claims for mental anguish. While loss of consortium is similar to this particular type of injury, mental anguish is more directed at ongoing problems dealing with life after the fact because tragic accidents tend to be watershed moments in the lives of family victims.
Punitive damages are sometimes awarded as well with significant gross negligence evidence. If the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit can prove that the person who caused the accident was reckless or negligent, the chances are higher that they will be awarded punitive and other damages.