A wrongful death claim is a statuary
cause of action that may be brought on behalf of a surviving spouse, children
and parents of the decedent to compensate them for the loss that they sustain as
a result of the wrongful death of their family member. As long as the decedent
could have maintained a cause of action for injuries had death not resulted, a
wrongful death action can be brought.
A wrongful death claim may be filed by
the surviving statutory beneficiaries (surviving spouse, children and parents of
decedent) or the decedent's personal representative.
What type of damages may be
recovered in a wrongful death case?
Recovery of parents:
Parents may recover for the loss of
companionship and society of the child as well as for the mental anguish caused
by the death of their child. If the decedent was a minor child, the parents may
recover the value of the child's services from the time of death until the day
the child would have reached the age of maturity, less the cost of child's
support, education and the maintenance during the period of minority, plus the
value of any financial contributions that the child in reasonable probability
would have made to the parents after the child reached the age of eighteen (18).
The parents of an adult child generally recover the value of future financial
contributions that the deceased child and reasonable probability could have been
expected to make to the parents.
Recovery of spouse:
A surviving spouse may recover damages
for loss of companionship and mental anguish caused by the death of his or her
spouse. The surviving spouse may also recover financial contributions that he or
she would have received and reasonable probability, as well as the financial
value of intangible services that the deceased spouse would have rendered in
Recovery by children:
Surviving children may recover damages
for the loss of companionship and mental anguish caused by the death of his or
her parent. A minor of the decedent may also recover the sums that the decedent
would reasonably and profitably have contributed to the maintenance of the child
and the value of services that the deceased in a reasonable probability would
have rendered in training, advising, and educating the child. The adult children
may also recover the sums that the decedent would reasonably and probably have
contributed to the child.