How Are Damages Calculated
Wrongful death occurs when an individual is killed as a result of the willful or negligent action of another. According to the law, when a wrongful death occurs, the decedent’s heirs and/or other beneficiaries have the right to seek economic, non-economic and punitive damages.
Economic damages can be defined as compensation for the financial contributions the victim would have made to the survivors had they lived. Common forms of economic damages in wrongful death actions include: medical and funeral expenses, loss of the victim’s expected earnings, loss of benefits (i.e., pensions), loss of inheritance, and the value of the goods and services that the victim could have provided had they lived.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, cover the less tangible losses that go along with a wrongful death. These will typically include compensation for the survivors’ pain and suffering, loss of love and companionship, loss of consortium and loss of the care, advice and nurturing from the deceased.
In addition, in some cases one can also receive punitive damages, which are awarded as a way to punish the defendant for bad conduct.
It is important to remember that these damages are not limited to income and external sources of benefits, but also the monetary value of services provided inside the home by a homemaker parent. This includes compensation for child care, cooking, cleaning, maintenance, shopping, transportation and even education.
When deciding the amount of damages to be awarded, Florida law requires the court to consider the following factors:
- The survivor’s relationship to the decedent
- The amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the survivor
- The replace value of the decedent’s services to the survivor
- The joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and, in the case of a minor child, the period of minority
Calculating damages is always a complex matter, one that requires the parties to present expert witnesses such as economists and actuaries to testify as to proper compensation. Because of these complexities, it is essential that you seek the advice of an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney. For more information on actions under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A., at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.