In determining what types of damages will be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, a court will look at many different factors surrounding the deceased and his or her relationships with the different surviving family members. Typically, wrongful death damages can be awarded to:
Spouses – The surviving spouse usually has a claim for the lost companionship that resulted from the deceased’s death, as well as for the surviving spouse’s own emotional trauma arising out of the death.
Children – Minor children (but usually not adult children) may also be awarded damages for the lost benefits of their relationship with the deceased parent, including comfort and support.
Parents – Parents of a minor child who has passed away (but usually not parents of adult children) can also recover damages for their emotional trauma and the lost relationship with the child.
Depending on the circumstances of the deceased’s death, courts can also award punitive damages to the surviving family members. Punitive damages can be awarded where the defendant engaged in a particularly reckless or egregious type of conduct resulting in the deceased person's death. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and to deter similar behavior in the future.
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