When a person has been killed because of another’s negligence or error, oftentimes the victim’s surviving spouse will file a wrongful death claim against the liable party. Through this claim, the spouse can seek compensation for a number of losses and damages suffered because of the death.
Ten damages that a spouse may seek include:
- medical costs – these include any medical expenses incurred from the time of the accident or injury up to the victim’s death;
- lost income – this can include lost income while the victim was in the hospital, as well as the deceased’s future expected earnings now lost;
- lost benefits – if the victim also had a pension, provided medical insurance or other types of benefits to the spouse, these may also be sought as damages in a wrongful death claim;
- burial and funeral expenses – the spouse may seek compensation for reasonable expenses associated with the victim’s burial, cremation or funeral;
- loss of consortium – though an intangible item, this refers to the physical relationship spouses share, which ceases when one spouse has perished;
- loss of love, society or companionship – this is also an intangible damage, referring to the loss emotional support the spouse’s death has caused;
- lost household services – if the victim provided household services, such as child care, cleaning or cooking, the spouse may be able to seek compensation for those lost services;
- mental anguish – spouses who have suffered mental and emotional pain or anguish because of the death may be able to seek compensation for it;
- lost inheritance – when a victim was in place to receive an inheritance but died too soon, the surviving spouse may look to recoup that inheritance; and
- punitive damages – if the person who caused the victim’s death acted recklessly or was extremely negligent, these damages may be sought as a way to punish them for their behavior.