Elements of a wrongful death action and possible damages

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2022 | Wrongful Death

While death is an inevitable part in life, it can be difficult to accept or cope with. This is especially true when a loved one is suddenly and tragically killed in an accident caused by the negligence of another. While there is nothing that could be done to bring back a loved one or make up for this loss, it is possible to take action to hold a negligent party accountable and recover compensation for the damages and losses suffered.

Wrongful death action

Following the death of a loved one, it may not always be clear that the negligence or recklessness of another was the cause of one’s death. If one believes that this might be the case, they should explore a wrongful death suit and understand the elements for this action.

There are four elements that must be present in order to successfully bring forth a wrongful death claim. First, there must be the death of a human being. Next, the person’s death must be caused by the negligence of another or due to their intent to cause harm. Third, the surviving family members must have suffered monetary damages as a result of the death. Finally, there needs to be an appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate.


The damages that could be collected in a wrongful death suit is dependent on the situation. In these matters, financial losses or pecuniary injury is the main measure of damages. This has been interpreted by the court to include the loss of support, loss of companionship, loss of services, the lost prospect of inheritance, medical bills and funeral expenses. The amount awarded is based on certain factors. This includes the age, character and condition of the decedent, their earning capacity, life expectancy, health, intelligence and circumstance at the time of their death.

Depending on the situation, one could seek punitive damages. These are awarded in matters that include serious or malicious wrongdoings. These damages are used to punish the wrongdoer, and it is also a means to deter others from behaving in the same manner.

Whether it was an automobile accident, surgical errors, hazardous conditions in the workplace or due to criminal behavior, the death of a love done is a shocking and emotional situation. Death is not only challenging to cope with, but it often also comes with many serious decisions to navigate and financial burdens. Thus, a wrongful death suit could help address some of these hardships.


FindLaw Network