Wrongful Death FAQ

Who can file a wrongful death case?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by a person who is a close relative to the deceased, including a parent, spouse or a child. Additionally, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by financial dependants, putative spouses, distant family members and parents of a deceased. The case is usually filed by a representative of the estate, on behalf of surviving family members and other affected parties.

Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased never held a job?

Yes, if the deceased never held a job, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. The deceased may have contributed in some other way to the family. For instance, a stay at home wife or husband contributes by providing guidance and nurturing the family. Such contributions may be quantifiable and are known as “pecuniary losses” in a wrongful death case.

What are the categories of damages in wrongful death lawsuits?

Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit vary from state to state. Generally, there are three categories of damages:

  1. Economic damages: These damages replace the financial contributions the deceased would have made if not for the untimely death. They include:
    • Medical and funeral experiences following death
    • Loss of the deceased expected earnings
    • Loss of benefits (pension plans, medical coverage, etc.)
    • Loss of inheritance due to untimely death
    • The total value of goods and services the deceased would have provided to the survivors
  2. Non- economic damages: These are less tangible damages. Often, non-economic damages have a higher value than economic damages. They include damages for:
    • The survivors’ mental anguish or pain and suffering
    • Loss of care, guidance, protection and nurturing
    • Loss of love and companionship
    • Loss of consortium
  3. Punitive damages: This is a compensation awarded to punish the defendant for wrongful acts. In most states, these damages are not recoverable in wrongful death lawsuits or against certain defendants, including government agencies. Punitive damages for a wrongful death can be recovered from nursing homes for an elder’s death. The amount of compensation is equal to three times of the amount of actual damages.

Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP