When a Louisiana family successfully proves liability in a wrongful death lawsuit against a party responsible for the death of their loved one, the family is entitled to an award of damages, to be paid by the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company. What factors go into calculating the amount of the damages awarded? This question may seem a bit too direct for someone still recovering from the loss of a loved one; still, it is an important question. This blog post will be a quick attempt at an answer to the question.
The main determinant of the amount of damages awarded is the financial loss suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the victim’s death. Lawyers refer to this financial loss as pecuniary injury. When assigning a dollar value to pecuniary injury, judges and juries take into account factors such as the loss of support and services suffered by the plaintiffs, funeral expenses, medical bills and any lost prospect of inheritance.
More specifically, the finders of fact take into account the age and health of the victim; the victim’s life expectancy before their death; their character, condition and level of education; and other factors. The amount awarded may be adjusted upward or downward based on factors such as the victim’s money management skills or their earning potential if a period of unemployment has temporarily lowered the amount they were earning. Each case is different, so it is impossible to predict what the exact outcome of a wrongful death action will be.
Very often, a family reeling from the loss of a loved one will feel overwhelmed by the prospect of taking legal action. The law limits the amount of time a family has to act, however, so acting promptly is essential.