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Calculating damages in wrongful death

One of the key concepts in personal injury law is known as restitution. The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to make someone whole again after they have suffered a loss. This is why part of a personal injury claim consists of calculating damages: The injured must show how much the injury has cost them, and if they are successful, the defendant must reimburse them for those costs, including both the purely economic costs, such as the victim's medical bills and lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as the victim's pain and suffering.

This principle works differently in cases involving a fatal accident or killing. In these cases, the family of the victim may file a specialized form of personal injury suit known as a wrongful death claim.

In wrongful death cases, the family members are seeking to recover compensation for their own damages. For example, they may claim loss of support, loss of services, lost inheritance and funeral expenses.

Wrongful death lawsuits can sometimes make a claim for lost income. For example, if the negligence or bad acts of another party rendered the family without their primary source of income, they have suffered a very real economic loss. However, it is not easy to calculate the exact dollar amount of this loss. A court must determine how many more years the deceased would have worked if not for the accident, and how much they would have earned over those years had it not been for the accident.

It should be noted here that, as with most civil lawsuits, most wrongful death actions are resolved through an out of court settlement negotiated by the parties. Still, the calculations give the parties a number to begin their negotiations.

Many people are uncomfortable with the topic of wrongful death lawsuits, and many people do not like the thought of assigning a dollar figure to the irreplaceable loss of their loved ones. However, a family suffers a very real loss when their loved one's life has been cut short. A wrongful death lawsuit can help them cope with the painful aftermath.

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