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Understanding wrongful death damages

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | Firm News

A loved one’s death can be a devastating emotional and economic loss from which many people do not recover. A wrongful death lawsuit may be the only remedy that brings closure and support to those who remain behind.

Wrongful death claims can lead to damage awards that help families move forward from tragedy.

What defines wrongful death?

Under Kansas law, the actions or omissions of a party that directly cause the death of another may become the focus of wrongful death actions. Typical scenarios include motor vehicle accidents, manufacturing defects or malpractice by individuals, businesses and medical and other healthcare professionals.

What damages can families receive?

In most cases, surviving relatives may receive monetary compensation for a victim’s medical care before death, plus funeral and burial expenses. Damages may also compensate families for losing future wages, childcare and household support.

Families that file wrongful death lawsuits typically receive non-economic damages as compensation for losing companionship, consortium, or guidance and enduring emotional distress. In Kansas, non-pecuniary damages may not exceed $250,000.

Although wrongful death lawsuits may award damages to close relatives, including spouses, children, parents, grandparents and siblings, a separate survival action can compensate the estate for a victim’s pain and suffering between injury and death. The survival action may also result in punitive damages against a defendant whose egregious or intentional acts of violence, negligence, or omission lead to someone’s death. Examples include a drunk driver who plows into a pedestrian or a manufacturer that knowingly offers a toxic product for sale. Defendants in such cases could be liable for punitive damages that deter future similar behavior from themselves and others.

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s action or inaction can be devastating and requires holding the responsible party accountable.