What are punitive damages in a Charlottesville, Virginia wrongful death case?
Punitive damages are often misunderstood, as our Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer knows very well. What many surviving family members do not realize when pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit is that punitive damages are rarely assessed. After a review of your case, our wrongful death lawyer can provide guidance as to whether or not punitive damages are appropriate to include in a lawsuit against the party responsible for your loved one’s death.
At MartinWren, P.C., we provide grieving family members a complimentary consultation with our wrongful death lawyer in Charlottesville VA to discuss their intentions about filing a lawsuit. During that meeting, you may gain a clearer understanding of your legal options and if our firm may be able to help you in the process.
What are considered damages?
Damages vary from case to case because they’re based on the circumstances of the victim’s passing. There are rules and standards against which a court will consider a lawsuit’s accounting of damages. And though a wrongful death lawyer may include an itemized list of damages, even if they win the lawsuit, the judge or jury may not award them.
Conversely, they may award financial remuneration that far exceeds the requested amount, though this is very rare. There is a stereotype that a successful wrongful death case will result in the victim’s family receiving millions of dollars. Though this is certainly possible, it is highly unlikely for the majority of cases. Of course, there are exceptions but your wrongful death lawyer can provide you with a realistic expectation.
What types of damages are possible in a wrongful death case?
There are two forms of damages that can be included in a wrongful death lawsuit: compensatory and punitive. After a thorough review of your loved one’s passing, and the circumstances surrounding it, your Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer will have an understanding of what damages to include. Every case is different, but these are possible damages that might be detailed in the lawsuit:
- Compensatory damages. This might include any of the following:
- Hourly wages or salary that the decedent would have earned through their working life with considerations of possible bonuses, vacation pay, medical benefits, inflation, and other factors.
- The medical bills that have accrued and/or were paid and were associated with treatment of the deceased and which were directly related to the actions of the at-fault person who caused their death.
- Costs associated with burial and funeral services for your deceased loved one.
- Loss of companionship. This is a difficult loss for which to assess damages, but our wrongful death lawyer has the experience necessary to navigate challenges such as this.
- Punitive damages. If the defendant acted in a particularly egregious manner, and their actions were directly responsible for the death of your loved one, they might be assessed punitive damages. As an example, if the defendant intentionally and willfully murdered your loved one, your wrongful death lawyer may include substantial punitive damages as a way for your family to punish the defendant and for the court to make an example of them. Though punitive damages are rare, they are often for large sums of money that the defendant is obligated to pay the plaintiff.
The 4 Crucial Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death is a legal term, which refers to instances where a person’s death was caused by the negligence or carelessness of another individual or entity. A wrongful death attorney Charlottesville VA can help surviving family members seek justice and restitution from the party at-fault. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family may be entitled to receive compensation for both financial and emotional damages. Surviving family members who are often a part of a wrongful death lawsuit are parents, children, or a spouse of the person who passed.
There are four crucial elements of a wrongful death lawsuit that must apply, in order for the surviving family to have a chance at receiving the financial retribution they deserve. An attorney at MartinWren, P.C can help grieving family members prove how these four elements were factors of what happened:
The surviving family must show how the passing of their relative was at least partially due to the negligence, recklessness, or thoughtlessness of the defendant. The most important aspect of any wrongful death lawsuit is how much evidence can be brought forward to show the link between the defendant’s actions and the person’s passing.
#2 Breach of Duty
With assistance from a wrongful death attorney Charlottesville VA, the surviving family must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the person who passed away. For instance, in a tragic car wreck, the plaintiff (surviving family) has to gather evidence that shows the defendant (driver) had either been speeding, ran a red light, changed lanes without signal, or otherwise did something that violated the rules of the road. Drivers have a duty to operate their car in a manner that doesn’t risk the lives of others.
#3 Causation of Death
Along with showing how the defendant breached their duty toward the person who passed away, the plaintiff must explain how such actions directly caused their relative’s death. A Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney can help you seek justice in honor of your loved one’s life.
#4 Resulting Damages
Lastly, there must have been quantifiable damages that resulted due to the death, such as medical care costs, funeral expenses, loss of earnings, loss of protection, in addition to pain and suffering of the relative prior to passing. Wrongful death lawsuits are sensitive and complex areas of the law. We highly encourage any surviving family members who are overwhelmed with anguish and anger, to get legal assistance right away from a trusted wrongful death attorney Charlottesville VA.
During a time of such agonizing grief, family members may understandably want to take action for justice of their loved one immediately. However, it is vital that relatives do not respond in a rush without obtaining legal guidance first, as implementing some strategy can provide you with an advantage once the lawsuit is underway. Please call us for a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney at MartinWren, P.C before the offender believes he or she got away with their wrongdoing.
If you lost your loved one because of another’s actions, whether they were intentional or due to their negligence, contact MartinWren, P.C. to request a complimentary case review. Our wrongful death attorney Charlottesville VA clients recommend can answer your questions and provide the guidance your family deserves in order to move forward.