Monday, July 21, 2008

How Much is the Right Cost in a Wrongful Death Claim

Reading “$29 Million Wrongful Death Award in Kings County Fire”, posted July 9, 2008, one cannot help but be astounded at the amount of compensation received by the decedent’s survivor in this grievous fire accident. The $29 million total settlement was said to be the largest in a wrongful death case verdict in the history of the county.

But how can one really determine a just and fair compensation in a wrongful death claim?

Wrongful death claims arise when victims die in an accident because of negligence or recklessness. In calculating compensation for the wrongful death victims, the court or jury often takes into consideration the following points:

• The gravity of the injury

• The extent of damage

• The status of the offending party

• The effect or repercussion of the accident on the victim and his survivors

According to this account, five people, including a teenage couple and their two-month old and two more other kids, perished in a fatal fire that gutted nine apartments in the county.

In deliberating on the damages award in this wrongful death case, the jury may have considered the factor that the fire accident had caused a tremendous effect on the victim’s family. In this case, the sense of loss is beyond one’s imagination as a whole family totally perished in a single accident. The grief is even more serious as investigations later revealed that the property owners had informed the tenants, six month before the incident that the building is not equipped with smoke or fire detectors.

To be able to pursue claims in a wrongful death case, the following elements are required:

• the death was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of defendant

• the defendant was negligent, or strictly liable, for victim's death

• there is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents

• monetary damages have resulted from the victim's death.

Pursuing a claim in a wrongful death case may be difficult for grieving survivors hence the services of a lawyer who specializes in this concern is important.

A wrongful death claim lawyer can help you evaluate your case, determine the amount of compensation and represent you during negotiations.