Under personal injury law, wrongful death cases have unique aspects that an Oklahoma wrongful death attorney can help translate for you. At BDIW Law, we have attorneys that combine skill and experience with compassion.
If you have lost a loved one because of another party’s neglect or wrongful actions, a wrongful death lawyer in Oklahoma can help. We understand your grief, and we are ready to represent your best interests.
How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit is Valued
In Oklahoma wrongful death lawsuits, financial damages are sought to compensate the surviving family or the deceased’s estate for their loss. During these cases, the negligent party is sued because their wrongful actions or misconduct caused the death. The court will decide the amount of your wrongful death settlement.
Sometimes, juries award large settlements or verdicts. Other times, the outcome may not be so favorable. So, how exactly did they get those results? How are wrong death settlements calculated?
If you were to try to assess how much a loved one contributes to your everyday life, it does not take long to realize that there is no dollar amount that can ever make up for such an immense loss. Trying to calculate the damages sought in a wrongful death case goes beyond stressful; it can be agonizing. But if you do not account for what has been lost, the expenses can add to the agony and ruin you financially.
It is best to start with concrete numbers, the expenses that can be added up. This includes the medical bills that have to be paid and the cost of the funeral that was needed for closure.
In wrongful death claims, the court’s main method of factoring various elements and placing a value on a lost life is the pecuniary rule. This legal terminology simply means dealing with money or finances.
It may appear cold and uncaring, but using the pecuniary rule to calculate how much the decedent’s life is worth is absolutely necessary for wrongful death claims. A settlement is found by combining the economic and non-economic damages, otherwise referred to as compensatory damages.
To determine the economic damages, the court must ask a series of questions regarding the decedent, including:
- How old were they, and what is their life expectancy?
- What was their income when they died?
- How much were they expected to earn in the future?
- Did they produce any goods and services that are now lost?
- What was their state of health?
- Did they have dependents, and how old were they?
- Was any inheritance lost?
- What was the total amount of medical expenses?
- How much did the funeral cost?
As far as the non-economic damages suffered by a family, these are usually calculated by evaluating several factors, including:
- The grief and emotional anguish suffered by loved ones
- The surviving spouse’s loss of consortium
- The children or surviving spouse’s loss of love, guidance, support, and companionship
Unfortunately, not every life is weighed the same using the pecuniary rule. If a young and single business owner that makes a lot of money tragically dies because of someone else’s negligence, their wrongful death settlement will probably be more than for a single middle-aged mom with five children and a meager income. Their families may love and miss them both, but in most cases, the net worth of the young entrepreneur with employees makes the settlement significantly more than a mom with kids who depend on their mom for both financial and emotional support.
In cases when a defendant’s conduct is proven to be especially egregious, non-compensatory or punitive damages can be added to the awarded settlement or verdict. The purpose of these damages is to punish the defendant and prevent such conduct in the future.
Our Team Is Here To Assist You Every Step Of The Way.SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY TODAY
The Burden of Proof in a Wrongful Death Case
Two requirements have to be met for a wrongful death claim to be successful:
- It must be proven that the defendant’s actions or negligence was in some way responsible for the death.
- A settlement is reached, or a court awards all of the damages associated with the death.
Wrongful death claims often arise from car accidents, malpractice, and criminal acts. Establishing liability in these types of cases requires convincing evidence. During investigations to determine liability, proof must be gleaned from gathering and examining the facts involved with the case.
One of the first questions an investigator may ask is, did the defendant have a duty of care? In other words, was the defendant in a position of responsibility, and if yes, did their behavior or failure to do their duty endanger others? For example, suppose a drunk driver breaches their duty of care by violating state laws and risking the lives of others on the road.
After proving a defendant violated duty of care, it must be established how it was violated. In medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove the medical professionals administered negligent care. After the breach of care has been proven, the correlation between this violation and the resulting death must be established, ultimately showing the death was caused by the violation.
Contact an Oklahoma Wrongful Death Lawyer
The Oklahoma wrongful death lawyers at BDIW Law understand how the unexpected loss of losing a loved one due to someone’s negligent and reckless action can leave you reeling. The painful loss can also create a huge void in families when the loss of the decedent’s income leaves them grieving and afraid for their future.
In a wrongful death case, experience is essential, and we have a long history of expertise using state law to fight for our clients and negotiate in their best interests. BDIW Law’s team of wrongful death attorneys in Oklahoma are discreet, professional, and ready to push back when the insurance company offers a low settlement.
Our compassionate team will evaluate your case, advise on legal strategy, and be there until the end. So, contact us for a free consultation today.
The Sooner We Get Involved, The More We Can Do To Help You.SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY TODAY