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What damages are available in wrongful death suits?

If you lose a loved one to someone else's negligence or misconduct in Washington, you may wish to file a wrongful death claim. Though no amount of money can bring your loved one back, a fair settlement can allow you to focus on grieving and healing instead of the financial loss caused by your loved one's death. FindLaw outlines the type of damages you may be able to recover. 

According to FindLaw, there are two types of damages you may recover in a wrongful death claim: pecuniary damages and punitive damages. The courts award pecuniary damages to compensate for financial injury caused by a person's unexpected death. Pecuniary injuries may include the loss of services (home maintenance, childcare, etc.), loss of support, lost prospect of inheritance and medical and funeral expenses. Most courts offer a damage award that includes interest from the date of the deceased's death.

When determining pecuniary loss, the decision makers must consider the character, age and overall health of the decedent. They must also consider the person's life expectancy, earning capacity, intelligence and the circumstances of the claimants. The main consideration deciding parties must make, however, is the decedent's circumstances at the time of death. Was he or she the main wage earner? Did he or she have young children? Did he or she have the potential to earn far more in the future than his or her last known earnings?

Determining pecuniary losses is a difficult job and often requires the help of a professional economist. It is the economist's job to establish the monetary value of the decedent to his or her family and to aid the jury in the evaluation.

In the event that the decedent's death was the result of particularly serious or malicious wrongdoing, the courts may punish the wrongdoer and deter others from behaving similarly by awarding punitive damages.

The content shared in this article is for your educational purposes only. You should not construe it as legal advice. 

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