When a loved one unexpectedly dies in an accident or as a result of another person’s negligent or wrongful actions, their surviving family members are often unfairly burdened with the financial and emotional repercussions of their death.
For families who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one, filing a wrongful death claim can be an effective method to recover compensation for their damages. So, what are recoverable damages in a Mississippi wrongful death claim? Compensation can typically be broken down into three categories—economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages refer to the verifiable, calculable financial losses you suffered as a result of your family member’s death. However, the wrongful death attorneys at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC understand that breaking down the very real loss of a person’s life into financial components can feel cold and sterile. Any attempt to recover compensation for economic damages is not an attempt to place a specific dollar value on your loved one’s life, but an attempt to ease the financial gap created by their death.
Compensation for economic damages varies widely from case to case, so we cannot say with any certainty what your family might be owed without first meeting in person to discuss your situation. However, the following are examples of economic damages that typically come into play in Mississippi wrongful death claims:
- Loss of income
- The cost of burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of benefits, including retirement and pensions
- The cost of emergency medical care
- The cost of domestic services, including those for cleaning and childcare
- The cost of auto repairs in the event of a fatal car accident
How To Prove Economic Damages
As discussed above, economic damages are verifiable financial losses. You must be able to prove the value of your losses. At Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we thoroughly investigate every Mississippi wrongful death claim to identify all possible sources of evidence for your case, including:
- Bank statements showing your loved one’s deposited paychecks and when they stopped
- Medical bills you received in the mail
- Bills or invoices for domestic services
If you have recently suffered the unexpected and wrongful death of a loved one, we advise that you begin maintaining careful records of your financial losses right away. Keep all the physical bills you’ve received in a safe place and create backup copies of digital bills. Bring these documents with you when you meet with your wrongful death attorney.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are the losses your family has suffered that do not necessarily have a financial component. This does not mean that the impact of these damages is any less real, and indeed many non-financial losses are often felt the most profoundly by those grieving the loss of a family member.
In a Mississippi wrongful death claim, non-economic damages might encompass:
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of protection, guidance, and care
- Loss of nurturing
- Loss of love and society
- Loss of companionship and consortium
Although the above damages do not have a direct monetary value, their impact will still be felt deeply by surviving family members. Jackson, MS families deserve to be fairly compensated in the event that a death is caused by the wrongful or negligent actions of another.
How To Prove Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages can be somewhat harder to prove than economic damages. That does not mean it is impossible to prove your non-financial losses or that it is not worth trying to do so. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will help you identify all sources of evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Notes from therapists or psychologists
- Expert witness testimony
- Testimony from friends and relatives
- Evidence that you no longer engage in hobbies (such as canceled memberships)
Punitive damages are rare in most wrongful death claims. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate a victim for their losses, but rather to punish the at-fault party for particularly heinous or egregious actions. For example, a driver that knowingly drank too much before getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle could be made to pay punitive damages if their actions caused a fatal accident.
The goal of punitive damages is to deter individuals from engaging in similarly reckless behavior in the future.
How To Prove Punitive Damages
According to Mississippi state law, you must provide clear evidence that the person who caused your loved one’s death:
- Acted with gross negligence
- Acted with malice
- Committed actual fraud
- Showed willful, wanton, or reckless disregard for other’s safety
Determining Which Damages You Are Owed
Depending on the details of your case, you may be entitled to economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. However, since the latter is considered exceptionally rare in most wrongful death claims, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to determine which damages your family might be owed.
Most families already have a good idea of what damages they might be entitled to prior to first meeting with a lawyer, though. If you have suffered financial loss or non-financial harm, such as loss of income or emotional trauma, you are likely entitled to economic and non-economic damages.
Determining the Value of Your Claim
Mississippi does not place a cap on economic damages in wrongful death cases. However, non-economic damages are capped at $1,000,000 for most cases. Non-economic damages for wrongful deaths caused by medical malpractice are capped at $500,000.
Correctly valuing the worth of your claim is essential, as you will not have a second opportunity to seek additional compensation for your loved one’s death in the future. To avoid missing out on vital compensation, we recommend that you meet with a trusted attorney to correctly value the worth of your wrongful death claim.
Standing Up for Families of Wrongful Death Victims
In Mississippi, you have only three years from the date of your loved one’s death to meet with an attorney, build your case, and file a wrongful death claim. When you allow time to pass without taking action, you are missing out on recoverable damages in a Mississippi wrongful death claim.
Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC offers free consultations to families who have lost loved ones in preventable or avoidable accidents. Contact our Jackson, MS office today to schedule your no-obligation case evaluation.