After the loss of a loved one, surviving family members may wish to pursue legal action against the responsible party. A successful case can result in the recovery of damages, which are monetary awards meant to compensate the family for their losses. However, only the representative of the estate can file a wrongful death case in Chicago.
For more information about Chicago wrongful death damages and how to pursue fair compensation for your loss, reach out to an experienced attorney. A personal injury lawyer could provide guidance and support through every step of the case, from negotiating with insurance companies to presenting your case in court.
Common Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
When somebody brings a wrongful death action, the damages are based on the losses to the beneficiaries of the estate. In the case of spouses or minor children or spouses, the loss of financial support is a major component of these damages.
The death of a loved one leaves a great hole in one’s life emotionally, and family members may be able to recover for the loss of the society or companionship of the person. Another damage is loss of consortium, which is the loss of the love or sexual relationship that a spouse might have. Families can also recover for the loss of moral upbringing, guidance, or care of a parent to a child. An attorney could help families calculate a fair value for these damages and pursue them in litigation.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
A wrongful death attorney must consider many factors when calculating a fair value for non-economic damages in a wrongful death case. For example, a person has to look back on the life they shared with their spouse and family. They may want to look at old journals or pictures. They may listen to stories from friends and family about the memories of the deceased and what they did, saw, and experienced together.
Did the decedent take his children to school or help with schoolwork in the evenings? Did he take him to a place of worship or give them moral instruction or guidance? This information about the relationship and how it will change in the future is crucial when calculating non-economic damages. A skilled attorney will consider these factors and others to develop the evidence needed to best present the case.
Loss of Companionship
How does one quantify the loss of a loved one, let alone calculate it? How does one say, “This person is only worth $500,000,” or, “This person is worth $20 million or $100 million?” It is a very difficult concept, but because there is no way to bring the person back to life and reinstitute the lost relationship, the only thing that can be done is to calculate it by money. There is a great range of dollar amounts that a jury, attorney, or judge might assign to a relationship, and one of the biggest problems the system of justice has is trying to quantify things like this. Ultimately, the value will be decided by a jury if the case cannot be settled.
Loss of Future Income
In order to calculate the loss of income, a lawyer may use many aids, including expert testimony. An expert may have knowledge in a particular vocational area or be an accountant, an actuary, or an economist who can put the figures together. When calculating a fair value for the income loss, the attorney and experts may consider several factors, including:
- The prior income of the decedent
- The trajectory of the occupation or career through the testimony of private employers
- Tax returns to see what their future economic situation would have been like
- The type of employment itself
For example, is the decedent a union worker with an expected wage level? Were they going to be a lawyer or a doctor? Were they developing experience and abilities that would increase their income? Factors such as age, health, and life expectancy are also considered.
Importance of Hiring a Skilled Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death cases often involve serious disagreements between the plaintiff and defendant over a fair amount of damages. For example, you will find great differences between the defense’s calculation of future income and the value given by the plaintiff’s attorney. This means that it can be extremely helpful to seek out an attorney with specific experience handling wrongful death cases. An experienced wrongful death attorney knows who the good experts are and how to present the real value of the loss in court.
For help pursuing fair compensation for your loss, reach out to a dedicated injury law firm. An attorney could help you calculate and pursue fair Chicago wrongful death damages and fight tirelessly on your behalf. Call today to discuss your case.