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What might I recover in a wrongful death lawsuit?


Facing the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest things to do in life. Your emotional turmoil can be great, and you may struggle to cope with the reality that you will never see or hear your loved one again. Precious family moments will pass without the person's presence, and you will never again be able to celebrate life's milestones with the deceased. Making matters worse, there may be very real financial ramifications of your loved one's passing, including medical expenses, funeral costs and lost wages.

With all of this mounting, you might find yourself feeling angered and overwhelmed. This is normal. However, you should not succumb to it. Instead, you should consider acting on your legal rights, particularly if your loved one's death was caused by the negligence of another. For example if a doctor's mistake led to the passing. But even if you succeed on your lawsuit, what can you recover?

First, you might be able to recover pecuniary, or financial, losses. These awards help cover damages such as funeral costs, medical bills and lost wages. When determining the recoverable amount, many factors may be taken into consideration, such as your loved one's earning capacity, age, health, life expectancy and intelligence. Adequately showing these factors may require expert testimony.

Second, you might be able to recover punitive damages, but only if the negligent party's acts are malicious. These damages are meant to punish the offending party. It is worth noting that a jury's award to you, if obtained, can be modified by the court to be more reasonable in its eyes.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be difficult in your personal life. When you make the decision to make the matter public by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you might become quite stressed. Fortunately, you may be able to find an ally in the form of a Pennsylvania attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed on June 7, 2015

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