What Damages May Be Recovered in a Death Claim
The wrongful death statute is very specific about what damages may be recovered in a wrongful death or survival claim.
Surviving Spouse. A surviving spouse may recover the following damages in a death claim:
1. Pecuniary loss — the loss of the care, maintenance, support, services, and advice the spouse would have received from the deceased spouse had the spouse lived.
2. Loss of companionship and society — the loss of the benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship, and society the spouse would have received from the deceased spouse had the spouse lived.
3. Mental anguish — the emotional pain, torment and suffering experienced by the spouse due to the death of the deceased spouse.
4. Loss of inheritance/loss of addition to the community estate — the loss that the deceased spouse would have added to the estate at the end of his or her natural life.
Surviving Child. Like a spouse, a surviving child may also recover for pecuniary loss, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, and loss of inheritance.
Surviving Parents. Surviving parents may seek pecuniary loss, loss of companionship and society, and mental anguish damages.
Exemplary Damages. A surviving spouse or child may also be entitled to exemplary damages if the defendant acted with malice or committed some other act entitling the survivors to exemplary damages.
Survival claims. In addition to those claims that the family members can make for their own damages, the estate of the deceased may also make a claim to recover the medical and funeral expenses incurred by the deceased and for any pain and mental anguish the deceased experienced between the time of injury and death. A big issue in survivor claims is whether the deceased immediately died in the collision or incident. If the deceased immediately died or was not conscious, then the estate is generally not allowed to recover any damages for the deceased’s mental anguish. On the other hand, if the deceased did not immediately die, then the estate can recover mental anguish damages.