A wrongful death is a death that occurs due to the negligence or misconduct of others. Common examples include deaths due to medical malpractice, accidents caused by a negligent or intoxicated driver, workplace accidents due to safety violations, nursing home neglect, or criminal acts like homicides or manslaughter.
In a wrongful death case, the surviving family members of the deceased person are entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the party responsible for their death. The lawsuit aims to hold negligent parties civilly accountable and compensate the grieving family for damages like loss of financial support, companionship, and mental anguish caused by the unjust passing of their loved one.
When a loved one dies due to another party’s negligence or misconduct in Nebraska, family members may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. But how much are these devastating and traumatic losses truly worth in the eyes of the law?
Several key factors influence what a wrongful death claim in Nebraska may be worth, both economically and otherwise. An Omaha personal injury lawyer can help determine the value of a wrongful death case after a preventable accident. Understanding these elements can equip grieving families to seek fair compensation after losing someone dear.
Lost Income and Benefits
Economic damages make up a significant portion of most wrongful death claims’ value. These pertain to quantifiable losses from a provider’s death—namely their income and employment benefits. Courts determine these sums based on elements such as:
- The deceased’s earning history and potential for earning growth
- Number of working years remaining before typical retirement age
- Fringe benefits they received, like health insurance, retirement packages and more
Younger, high-earning victims leave especially substantial income losses their families did not anticipate absorbing. If the spouse who died was the sole breadwinner and there are children, this is also a disastrous state of affairs economically-speaking. Economic experts often provide evidence assisting courts in accurately projecting and valuing all these forfeited financial resources.
Loss of Companionship, Guidance and Support
Unlike economic categories focused on dollars and cents, non-economic damages capture a victim’s priceless personal contributions to survivors, including:
- Companionship or positive presence
- Mentorship and guidance, especially for children who lose a parent
- Emotional support and counsel
- Household services like cleaning, yardwork and more
Quantifying such intangible yet invaluable nurturing functions into monetary equivalence poses obvious challenges. But plaintiffs may provide testimony, family accounts and other qualitative evidence revealing a victim’s role within survivors’ lives. Nebraska courts allow up to $1.75 million total in compensation for these losses.
Additional Damages and Suffering
Beyond direct income losses and loss of companionship, wrongful death claims often include other tangible and intangible damages the family endures. These may incorporate things like:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Past and future medical expenses related to physical or mental health issues stemming from the traumatic loss
- Loss of inheritance funds the victim could have left behind
- Loss of parental nurturing and guidance for minor children
- Emotional suffering like depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms
- Loss of consortium between spouses or domestic partners
Courts may award additional damages if a victim experienced extreme mental anguish, disfigurement, or other severely diminished capacity for enjoying life prior to their death. The more evidence supporting genuine suffering on various fronts, the higher claims climb.
Higher Degrees of Misconduct
While simple negligence constitutes grounds for a wrongful death action in Nebraska, plaintiffs face higher likelihood of obtaining punitive damages if defense misconduct involved:
- Gross negligence demonstrating reckless disregard for life or safety
- Intentional harm, assault or even murder
Punitive sums serve primarily to punish defendants above and beyond compensating survivors, hence courts reserve these for the most egregious offenses warranting strong deterrents.
Maximizing Wrongful Death Claims
Given the complex blend of economic calculation and emotive valuation involved, maximizing overall claim value requires experience. Qualified attorneys understand both logical and psychological negotiating tactics for compelling reasonable payouts from insurers.
Optimal legal teams also boast compassionate yet assertive negotiation styles protecting vulnerable clients still deep in grief. Combining relentless drive with genuine empathy and understanding builds rapport and credibility before courts. This is why it is important to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Nebraska, like Monge & Associates.
While money can never undo the anguish of losing beloved family members, sufficient compensation facilitates healing and honors victims by holding accountable parties responsible. Though insurers often resist higher wrongful death payouts, compelling evidence and advocacy can better approximate truly fair remedies.
We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Nebraska, Kansas, and South Carolina. Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.