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Wrongful Death

Most Common Causes of Child Wrongful Death

Child Wrongful DeathThe death of a child is a tragedy that no parent should ever have to endure, but when the death is due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, that can make the situation even worse. Although no one can bring back someone’s child, there are resources that can help families cope.

What Are the Causes of Wrongful Death in Children?

With children, the most common cause of wrongful death is vehicular accidents. This includes car accidents where another adult is transporting the child and their negligence causes the child’s death. It also includes cases where a negligent driver of another vehicle is responsible for the accident. In some cases, children riding their bicycles or playing outside also suffer wrongful death due to a car or truck accident.

On top of that, many wrongful deaths in children are caused by faulty products. Over the years, deaths have been caused by products made for children such as toys with lead, dangerous playground equipment, and hoverboards. Beyond that, products such as tires, airbags, and tipping shelves have led to the wrongful death of multiple children.

In some cases, medical malpractice can lead to the wrongful death of a child. At birth, nearly 2% of infant deaths are related to injuries often linked to medical malpractice or the misuse of instruments. As children get older, they may be misdiagnosed, given the wrong medication, or exposed to a range of other potentially fatal risks. In fact, according to some estimates, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death for people of all ages.

Children can also suffer wrongful deaths due to dog attacks, by drowning in swimming pools, and by playing sports.

How Can Wrongful Deaths Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way for parents to protect their children from wrongful deaths. By their very nature, wrongful deaths are caused by the negligence of another person or entity.

However, to keep children as safe as possible, parents should focus on road safety and emphasize the importance of using seatbelts and bicycle helmets. They should also warn their children about the potential risks of dogs they don’t know. Ideally, parents should know the signs of a concussion so they can help keep their children safe on the field, and they should always watch their hildren around swimming pools.

If possible, parents should monitor recall notices and immediately stop using any products that have been recalled. Ideally, parents should try to do due diligence on the products they use, and in particular, they may want to avoid manufacturers with a history of creating dangerous products.

However, in many cases, these efforts are simply not enough. When an individual or a company is negligent, a child can die, regardless of how hard their parents tried to protect them.

Is There Support for Parents Who Have Lost a Child Due to Wrongful Death?

There are many support groups for parents who have lost their children. To find a group in your local area, contact your church, community center, hospital, or library. The staff at these facilities may be able to help you find a grief support group.

If you can’t find a local group, you may want to look for an online group. Facebook, in particular, has many groups geared toward parents suffering the loss of a child. Many parents also find some relief by talking with grief counselors.

When you have lost a child due to wrongful death, support is only one facet of the equation. Your child deserves justice for negligent behavior that caused them to lose their life, and you also deserve compensation for related expenses and suffering. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Mazow | McCullough, PC today at 855-693-9084. We can talk with you about your case and help you decide how to move forward.

How to Support Someone Grieving a Wrongful Death

Grieving a Wrongful DeathGrief is an overwhelming process not only to the one going through it but also those who care about them. If the deceased loved one died due to the negligent or intentional act of another person, this may intensify the grief.

If someone you know is facing the wrongful death of a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to say or feel your support is enough. Here are five suggestions for offering comfort and support.

Acknowledge Their Feelings

Telling a grieving person “Please don’t cry” may seem harmless but it also devalues their emotions. It may be uncomfortable to see your friend or loved one cry or experience anger, however, it is important to acknowledge these feelings and treat them as valid.

Everyone experiences grief in a different way and it may not always make sense to you. Just remember it is your job to offer support, even if feelings appear intense or unusual. Leave your judgment at the door and allow people to express themselves fully during this difficult time.

Offer Assistance

“How may I help?” or “I am here if you need anything” are among the best statements you can make to a grieving loved one. Sometimes, the minutiae of daily living is too much and people need your assistance.

This may involve making them a week’s worth of freezer meals or mowing the lawn. If grief leads to anxiety, making telephones calls to finalize funeral arrangements or death certificates can be essential. Sometimes, just having someone there when the survivor finalizes documents or consults with an attorney can help.

Do Not Disappear

It is common for people to stop checking in after the funeral. They’ve got busy lives, but unfortunately for the person grieving, their lives have all but stopped. It can be extremely difficult for the person who lost a loved one to experience wave after wave of love and support, and then suddenly nothing as the days and weeks pass after the funeral is over.

If you are a good friend or close relative, stay in contact. Even if your friend or loved one wants time alone, a text message simply stating “I’m thinking of you” offers support without requiring a response. You may never hear back from them until a few days later but you let them know you are still there.

Also, understand that holidays, death anniversaries, and birthdays will be difficult. Many people withdraw, afraid they will upset the survivor. It is true that these may be days of tears, but completely ignoring milestones can make this grief much worse.

Stay Away from Clichés

People commonly use clichés like “they’re in a better place” or “it was just their time,” but these can be awkward and are of little value.

It is better to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” then repeat the same tired clichés about death. If you love someone, any time they pass away is too early. This is even more applicable when the loss is due to an accident or intentional act. Your loved one is dealing with shock and anger as well as loss. In these cases, it is better to offer help or simply state, “I’m here for you.”

Do Not Exclude Them

Acknowledging grief does not mean you must exclude them from activities they enjoy. You may hear “no” frequently, but people often feel better just knowing you thought of them.

So, continue your invitations to social gatherings. You do not want to force a transition into activities with guilt or pressure. Offer the option and if they feel ready, they will say “yes.”

Mazow | McCullough represents survivors who lost loved ones under tragic circumstances that could have been prevented. We understand the grief involved in wrongful death claims and can handle your case with compassion and experience. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling (855) 693-9084.

6 Bicycle Safety Habits for Avoiding Accidents

It is unfortunately easy to get into a bicycle accident on today’s busy roads. If a bicycle experiences a collision with a car, it is usually the bicyclist who sustains the worst injuries including fractures, head injuries, and in some cases, wrongful death.

While your injuries may be covered by the driver’s or your own auto insurance policy, the best-case scenario is to avoid these accidents in the first place. You can take precautions to enhance your visibility whether you bicycle commute to work or enjoy an occasional leisurely ride. Here are six bicycle safety habits to help you avoid accidents.

  1. Install a Headlight

Headlights are vital safety equipment but they are also the law. Massachusetts law requires bicyclists to use a front white light (headlight) from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Even though most bicyclists do not ride after dark, nighttime accidents account for nearly half (47%) of cycling deaths, according to the Governers Highway Safety Association.

Bicycle Safety

A headlight helps you see better when you ride at night but also enhances your visibility to traffic. You can also purchase one with a flashing feature that makes you more noticeable during the day.

If you ride during dawn, dusk or at night frequently, consider investing in reflective clothing too. A “slow vehicle” triangle helps as do the light reflective vests used by road personnel.

  1. Make Eye Contact

Drivers do not look out for bicycles as they do for other cars. While an impact with you is likely the driver’s fault, that is not a comfort if you are stuck in a hospital for days and face a long recovery time.

The best way to avoid impact is eye contact. Unless a driver looks right at you, do not cut in front of them or assume it is safe to cross. If they seem extra oblivious, wave or even yell out just to make sure they notice you. If you’re not sure whether the driver has seen you and will yield, wait for them to clear your path completely before continuing your route.

  1. Stay in the Road

If there is a bike lane, stay to the left near the line. This makes you more visible and even if you must be in the lane with cars, you are actually safer than if you ride as close to the curb as possible. Also, a common form of injury suffered by bike riders is drivers parking a car then opening the door in front of you. If you stay left and stay out of door range, you are more likely to avoid this type of collision.

Riding on the sidewalk is also not recommended. You put pedestrians in danger and end up in danger zones like crosswalks. Drivers often do not expect to see bicycles in the crosswalk.

It seems counterintuitive to stay safer by driving in the road but sometimes, that is the only way drivers pay attention to you. As with many of these other tips, visibility is key to avoiding accidents.

  1. Go with Traffic

Pedestrians walk against traffic to assure visibility and stay safe. Many bicyclists believe the same approach works for them.

However, riding against traffic is dangerous for a bicyclist. You cannot stop as quickly as a pedestrian and you will often sneak up on drivers. If a driver is making a right turn from a side street, they are not expecting a vehicle to come at them from the right. This makes them more likely to turn into you and cause an accident.

  1. Stay Out of Blind Spots

Avoid stopping beside a car whenever possible. If stopped, your best spot is between two cars, even if you remain in a bike lane. This assures cars behind you and in front of you see you.

Otherwise, you risk another common type of car-bicycle collision–the right turn punch. When you sit in a car’s blind spot, the driver may complete a right turn right into you or in front of you, making it impossible to stop on time. Never riding or stopping beside a car is the best way to avoid this accident.

  1. Remember: You Are Operating a Vehicle

Like a car, your bicycle is subject to statutory requirements and must follow the rules of the road. Think of it as a really small vehicle that could be hit if drivers of larger vehicles do not pay attention to you. Purchase the safety equipment (including a good bicycle helmet) and ride in a cooperative fashion that helps you coexist well with cars.

However, even if you develop the good practices and intentions, there is still a risk of facing a catastrophic injury from a careless driver. Mazow | McCullough, PC is there for you if this occurs. Contact us for a free case evaluation by calling (855) 693-9084 or (978) 744-8000.

Wrongful Death: Car Accidents

Car accidents happen in an instant, in part because of the high speeds usually involved. In a flash of glass and steel, you could be physically, emotionally, and financially drained and devastated. You could face difficult choices about your future. If you lost a loved one to a wrongful death because of a car accident, those feelings of confusion, uncertainty, and anguish are often even harder to bear.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are responsible for more than 35,000 deaths per year.wrongful-death-car-accidents-mazow-mccullough While the number of deaths have decreased due to higher safety standards for vehicles, someone is still killed every 12 minutes. Here is what you need to know:

The Leading Causes of Fatal Car Accidents Include:

Driver Fatigue: New research indicates that drivers operating on less than 4.5 hours of sleep are just as impaired in their judgment, concentration and reaction times as drunk drivers—which means they are just as likely to cause an accident and therefore a wrongful death.

Drunk Drivers: Drunk drivers are perhaps the most famous cause of lethal car crashes, and for good reason. According to the CDC in 2014, alcohol was responsible for 9,967 vehicular wrongful deaths–nearly one-third of car accident related fatalities in the United States. Alcohol impairs judgment, perceptions, reaction times, and general coordination.

Distracted Drivers: A problem receiving more and more attention lately is the distracted driver. Whether because of texting, eating, or even looking at the radio to change the station, a distracted driver can easily cause a car accident while their attention is elsewhere.

Weather Conditions: Rain, snow, sleet, and ice can all make ordinary braking and turns risky, let alone dangerous behavior such as speeding.

Street and Highway Defects: Even if all drivers obey the rules, road hazards such as pot holes and uneven roads can prove perilous if not promptly removed.

Car Manufacturing Defects: A rare but still possible scenario is the car itself malfunctioning and causing a wrongful death. A deadly mechanical defect could range from an eroded hood latch snapping open on the road to the air bags failing to deploy during an accident.

The cause of the accident and wrongful death can alter who is considered at-fault and liable for the subsequent damages. In most cases the driver would be personally liable for their behavior. However, in cases of road or car defects the local government or the manufacturer, respectively, could also be liable.

Fault in Wrongful Death

To determine fault for a wrongful death by car accident, courts require proof of negligence. Negligence is the failure to act with proper care which results in harm to another person. For example, if a car manufacturer sells a vehicle knowing there is a potentially lethal defect, and did nothing to rectify that defect, that would be considered negligent behavior.

Legal negligence requires proof that the defendant had a duty of care to the victim. In other words, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had an obligation to protect them. Drivers, however, are under a legal expectation that they operate their vehicles with a certain level of due care to all other cars on the road. Therefore, if it can be proven that a driver acted recklessly—whether by violating state laws or by drinking and driving–then their actions will usually be considered negligent.

Fault can be proved in numerous ways:

Police Records: If you lost a loved one by car accident, the police will most likely need to investigate and write an official report on the crash. They will make their own determinations about fault and the timeline of events. You can request a copy of this report to serve as part of the evidence in your wrongful death suit.

Hospital Records: Hospital records are another crucial source of evidence in determining fault in a wrongful death case. Medical records will describe the nature and extent of a patient’s injuries, how they were acquired, and what treatments medical professionals attempted. In other words, it can help determine if a car accident was responsible for their death.

State Laws: If the defendant violated state law—perhaps by turning right on red when they weren’t permitted to, exceeding the speed limit, or tailgating—then they would be usually be considered at fault for the car accident.

Witness Testimony: If anyone saw the crash occur, they could be invaluable in establishing what happened when and who is liable for any wrongful deaths that occurred.

Traffic Cameras: If the accident took place at an intersection with a traffic camera, the footage could serve as even more reliable evidence of what happened and how the defendant neglected the rules of the road and caused a wrongful death.

Collecting and compiling all this evidence through the proper channels can be difficult for the layperson, and forming them into a compelling argument for proving fault can be daunting without experience and legal training.

The Costs of a Fatal Car Crash

Holding someone accountable for the wrongful death of your loved one may seem like a small concern while you are in mourning, but it can actually help your healing process. An unexpected loss can be expensive, which adds another weight to a mind heavy with bereavement. Financial compensation can help relieve those monetary burdens, providing respite from anxiety and allowing more time to truly recover from your loss.

Some of the unexpected costs that can come with an unexpected wrongful death due to a car accident include:

Funeral Costs:  Funerals can be far more costly than might be expected. The average funeral can cost around $6,560, which can represent an insurmountable charge for most people. The most basic of funeral services can still cost around $2,000, which doesn’t account for possibly mandatory removal fees, possibly mandatory embalming fees, or the casket (which itself could cost between $2,000 and $10,000).

Medical Bills: Often a wrongful death is preceded by hospitalization and medical care, which is expensive even with health insurance. The average cost of hospitalization is around $10,000, not including any major procedures and treatments medical professionals attempt in an effort to save your loved one.

Pain and Suffering: Losing a loved one in a wrongful death hurts. The mental anguish of losing them—losing their companionship, love, and guidance—can be nearly impossible to bear. Grief can cause depression, disengagement with life, struggles with employment and difficulty connecting to others. While there isn’t a definite value to this pain, it is very real burden.

In addition, a particularly negligent defendant might be liable for punitive damages as well. Punitive damages aim to punish the defendant for their actions and to dissuade others from making similarly destructive choices. Compensation can provide you and your family with not only financial aid for your expenses but a sense of justice, knowing that the person responsible for the loss of your loved one has been punished for their actions.

Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC for Car Accident Wrongful Death Attorneys

Even if the state is pursuing a criminal case against those you believe to be liable for the wrongful death of your loved one via car accident, you can still pursue a civil suit against them for the compensation you deserve.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death civil suit in Massachusetts is 3 years. While that may seem like a long time, having only three years to navigate the complex legal procedures and collection of evidence can prove daunting for people still in mourning. Hiring the experienced attorneys of Mazow | McCullough, PC can help; we have experience in collecting evidence, dealing with insurance companies, and pursuing cases through litigation and mediation. If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death due to a fatal car accident, contact us today for a free consultation.

7 Stages of Grief After a Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one in a sudden accident is heartbreaking, and something you can never truly “move on” from. 7-stages-of-grief-wrongful-deathThe grief felt after a wrongful death can be overwhelming at times, but it can be comforting to know that most people go through the same stages of grief, albeit at their own pace. Here are the 7 stages of grief people experience after losing a loved one, and what you can do if your loved one died in an accident or due to the negligence of someone else.

1. Denial and Shock

The very first stage of grief experienced by most people after a wrongful death is shock and denial. You may feel like you’re living in an alternate reality where nothing is what it seems, or you may be in denial that the accident happened at all.

2. Guilt/Pain

You may feel guilty over your loved one’s death, even if you weren’t involved in the accident. You may feel guilty over things you wish you would have done differently during their life. This stage is also wrought with pain – you’ll grieve the loss of your loved one intensely and may even become consumed by the pain felt at their absence or by reminders of their life and death.

3. Anger/Bargaining

The third stage of grief is anger. You may feel angry at those who may have caused your loved one’s death and you may unexpectedly lash out with frustration at friends and loved ones as you move through this stage. It’s also common to bargain with a higher power if a survivor believes in one. Additionally, survivors often make promises and plead for their loved one to be brought back to them.

4. Loneliness

Loneliness and sometimes even depression can come just at the point where other family members and friends feel you should be “getting over” the loss or “moving on.” This is simply because the death and your feelings make them uncomfortable. Sadness and loneliness after a loved one’s death – even months or years after – is healthy. You may even revisit this stage from time to time throughout your life.

5. Getting Better

Many people notice after intense sadness comes a “lifting” sensation, where the grief begins to lessen somewhat. Life starts to become calmer and things begin to have meaning again, little by little. You may also feel less physical symptoms of grief during this stage.

6. Reconstruction

At some point, you will begin reconstructing your life without your loved one. This can be challenging, especially if the loved one was a spouse or a child. Learning to live without them may seem impossible, but during this stage you’ll begin to see solutions to problems and you’ll be able to think more clearly about the things around you. Intense grief can cloud the mind and make it difficult to think and make decisions, and during this second-to-last stage of grief you may find that easing up.

7. Hope and Acceptance

If you’re early in your grief journey, the idea of accepting your loved one’s death and having hope may seem entirely impossible. Eventually, it won’t be. Your mind and heart will begin to accept that your loved one is gone. As your life reshapes without them in it, you may begin to feel hopeful about what the future has in store for you and other loved ones.

Very few people move through the stages of grief after a wrongful death in a linear fashion. They may start out angry, move into shock and denial, try to reconstruct, move into loneliness and guilt, and then move on to acceptance. Once acceptance is reached, there’s no promise that it’s “over” – it’s possible to revisit any one or more of the stages of grief again throughout your life. This is normal and healthy, and it’s important that you recognize that deep grief is something that people who have lost loved ones will continue to experience. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your emotions are “wrong” or that you should be “over it” by a certain time. Usually, comments like this come from those who have not yet walked their own grief journey.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, our compassionate wrongful death attorneys can help you discover resources to cope with grief after a wrongful death and we can help you explore the possibility of obtaining justice for your loved one through a wrongful death claim. Call today for a consultation at (855) 693-9084 or (978) 744-8000.

How to Move Forward Financially After a Wrongful Death

After losing a loved one suddenly in a wrongful death, your life is turned upside down. Soon after the death, there’s a flurry of funeral arrangements and visitors, and over time you’re left to grieve the loss of your loved one. Few people think about money right away after a family member passes, however, it’s not long before financial issues begin to creep up.

how-to-move-forward-financially-after-a-wrongful-death

Funeral Expenses

Over the years, funerals have become more and more costly as more options are made available for grieving families to memorialize their loved one at a service. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the average funeral cost with burial and vault in 2015 was just over $8,500, up 29.3% from 2004. Many families who lost a loved one unexpectedly in an accident are not prepared to pay for a funeral and if the deceased did not have life insurance, families may be left in a financial bind.

Lost Wages

If the deceased was a primary wage earner, this can cause another financial strain on survivors, especially if there are survivors who were considered dependent on the deceased, such as a spouse or children. When considering lost wages, it’s important to look well into the future at what the loved one would have been able to provide financially over time had they not passed.

Medical Expenses

In many cases of wrongful death, there are medical expenses. If, for example, a loved one died in a car accident, they were likely transported to the hospital and cared for in some capacity before their death. In medical malpractice cases, there may be a great deal of medical bills associated with the care the deceased received before dying. Many families are shocked and upset when hospital bills come in the mail for tens of thousands of dollars for a family member who is no longer with them.

Emotional Suffering

Losing a loved one is extraordinarily difficult, and it is to be expected that the surviving family members need support during this time. Many families require counseling and other types of support to help them cope with the loss, which depending on individual needs, can end up being quite costly.

Obtaining Financial Compensation from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

One way to obtain compensation after a loved one’s untimely death is through the pursuance of a wrongful death claim. Not only will a claim potentially relieve the financial burdens a family faces after the sudden death of a loved one, it can hold the person(s) or entity(s) responsible for their death accountable for their actions.

At Mazow | McCullough, P.C., we understand how challenging it can be to deal with the many repercussions of a loved one’s wrongful death. Our commitment to our clients is to help them pursue fair compensation for the costs they’ve incurred, as well as justice for their loved one’s death. Contact us today for a consultation by calling (855) 693-9084.

Wrongful Death at Work

Work-related accidents occur frequently, especially in certain industries that tend to be more dangerous, such as construction or factory jobs. While some accidents that happen at work need little more than a few stitches, others result in the serious injury or wrongful death of the employee.wrongful-death-at-work-mazo-mcullough

If your loved one was killed in a work-related accident, you have many challenges ahead, including grieving your loss and dealing with financial matters. Here’s what you need to know about a wrongful death at work and how our attorneys can help you get through these difficult obstacles.

Reporting the Accident

One of the most important things that can occur soon after the death of an employee is the accident being reported and accurately recorded. How the accident occurred, what happened leading up to the accident, and witness testimonies are all crucial information that needs to be reported to the employer and to an attorney.

Workers’ Compensation

In accidents that result in a fatality that occur outside of a workplace, the only legal remedy for financial coverage for medical and funeral expenses is insurance and/or a wrongful death lawsuit. When a fatality occurs in a workplace, workers’ compensation becomes another option to recover damages for medical bills that are related to the accident.

When to Contact an Attorney

Many expenses likely won’t be covered by workers’ compensation, including funeral expenses, lost future wages, loss of consortium, and emotional trauma and suffering due to the sudden loss of a loved one. However, a wrongful death lawsuit can help provide legal remedy for additional damages suffered by survivors, in particular, non-economical damages.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we understand how devastating it can be to lose a loved one unexpectedly in a work related accident. Not only are we committed to helping your family obtain the full and fair compensation you need for your loved one’s final expenses, we will also fight to see that justice is done for your loved one. We will exhaust every legal option available to ensure that those whose negligence or carelessness played a role in your loved one’s passing are held accountable and penalized for their actions.

Don’t hesitate to contact our office to speak with a compassionate, experienced wrongful death attorney. Call us today at (855) 693-9084 for a consultation to learn more about what your next step should be after a loved one’s wrongful death at work.

Most Common Damages Sought in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Beyond the absolute emotional devastation that a wrongful death can bring to a family, there are many unexpected expenses that can arise. If a deceased loved one’s untimely death was brought on by the negligence of another person or a company, the family of the deceased may be able to bring a wrongful death claim forward for damages. Learn more about the most common damages sought in a wrongful death claim.

most-common-damages-sought-in-wrongful-death-lawsuits

Funeral Expenses

The average funeral costs approximately $7181.00[1], but can cost as much as $10,000 depending on the arrangements that are made.

Medical Expenses

If your loved one was transported to the hospital before their passing and received any sort of medical treatment, you will have these expenses to contend with as well. While the basic hospital expenses of a loved one being transported and declared at the hospital might just be a few thousand dollars, if they were resuscitated at any point or underwent any emergency procedures in an attempt to save their life, a family could be looking at hospital expenses in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lost Future Wages

If a deceased loved one was a part-time or primary wage earner, it is important to count these damages with the total claim. A forensic financial expert can help calculate what your deceased loved one would have made up until the time of their expected natural passing, including potential raises and benefits your loved one would have been likely to get as they continued their career.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a non-exact figure that is estimated when a family loses a loved one. It is the court’s attempt to compensate a family for the loss of companionship, comfort, love, and affection that the deceased would have given to their loved ones in their natural lifetime.

Punitive Damages

If the action or lack of action that caused your loved one to pass away was particularly negligent or egregious, punitive damages may also be sought. Punitive damages are less about compensating the deceased’s family for the loss of their loved one and more about penalizing the person(s) whose wanton carelessness caused their death. Hospitals may be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions in cases of medical malpractice. In cases of discrimination, companies may also be fined as a penalty.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or carelessness, it’s important that you secure legal representation right away. Although no amount of money can soften the emotional blow of the sudden death of a loved one, it can help buffer the expenses that result.

Contact Mazow | McCullough, P.C. today for more information on how to bring a wrongful death claim forward and what types of damages you may be able to receive compensation for in order to ensure that justice is done on the behalf of your loved one.

[1] https://smartasset.com/life-insurance/how-much-does-the-average-funeral-cost

The Difference Between Economic & Non-Economic Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

When filing a wrongful death claim, knowing how much your claim is worth can be a challenging issue. Taking the time to figure out the different types of damages while dealing with the grief of losing a loved one makes the task even more daunting. Sorting out the differences between economic and non-economic damages can be key to figuring out the amount of compensation you may be able to expect.

the-difference-between-economic-and-noneconomic-damages-in-wrongful-death-cases

Here is what you need to know.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the expenses that can be concretely calculated. This can include property damage, medical bills, and funeral expenses. As a rule of thumb, if there is an explicit bill for it, it is an economic damage. Economic damages are typically easy to calculate by totaling the costs involved with a wrongful death.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages. These are damages that cannot be easily quantified or translated into monetary values. As a result, they can be difficult to calculate for a wrongful death claim.

These can include, but are not limited to:

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering includes the physical and emotional consequences of losing a loved one, including but not limited to:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Lack of Energy
  • Mood Swings
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in more extreme cases

Pain and suffering damages might also include lost wages if the emotional repercussions prevent the victim’s immediate family from returning to work. In a wrongful death case, the pain and suffering of both the victim and their loved ones may be compensable.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a compensation for losing a family member. This type of damage is only recognized in cases involving extreme, permanent injuries or wrongful death. Loss of consortium seeks restitution for the loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, affection, love, or sexual relations that a family member provided.

In many jurisdictions, only spouses are allowed to seek loss of consortium damages. However, other jurisdictions have expanded their rules to include children in cases involving the loss of their parents.

Punitive Damages

If the court determines that the negligence or recklessness that led to a wrongful death was particularly egregious, they may also award punitive damages. These damages are meant as both punishment for the defendant and as a deterrent to future defendants in a similar position. Punitive damages are often capped at certain amounts, and they can also have minimum amounts. In Massachusetts, punitive damages for a wrongful death are at least $5,000 by law.

Proving Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages must be proven in court, and because they are rough monetary estimate of a personal experience they require a more diverse set of support than economic damages. Physical or mental therapy bills, medical reports, expert witness testimonies, photos of injuries, or prescription information can all help prove the extent of pain and suffering. For loss of consortium claims, courts often require a valid marriage license for spouses.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages

Calculating non-economic damages can be tricky by their very nature. There is no formula under Massachusetts law to assist in determining such damages. Jurors are only asked to use their wisdom, judgment and sense of basic justice to translate into dollars the amount which will fairly and reasonably compensate the plaintiff for his/her injuries. Only very recently, the Massachusetts legislature has changed the law to allow attorneys to suggest to a jury specific dollar amounts for a damage award. What this means as a practical matter is that, in addition to providing figures for medical expenses and lost earnings, a lawyer in Massachusetts can assist a jury in calculating non-economic damages.

Because non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are so subjective, and an attorney can suggest whatever dollar figure he or she can support with that evidence, there is a wide range of damage awards for seemingly similar injuries. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff’s lawyer to convey to the jury how each specific plaintiff has uniquely endured the consequences and hardships of an injury.

In order to understand the extent to which a jury would assess damages in a personal injury trial, the lawyer must understand the human and individual nature of a plaintiff’s damages.

Furthermore, it is imperative to provide credible support for such damages, including a well-prepared plaintiff who can articulate the damages, documentary support, and supportive, credible witnesses.

Conclusion

Receiving a fair compensation for a loved one’s wrongful death cannot bring them back, nor can it truly fill the void they leave behind. However, it can help ease the expensive medical bills and funeral costs that arise from a sudden death. Further, knowing that the liable parties have been held legally responsible can give some peace of mind in a time of great turbulence. If you’ve lost a loved one, contact Mazow | McCullough, P.C. today. We can help you seek justice by determining the value of your wrongful death claim, helping you file a claim, and assisting you through the civil suit process. Call today for a free consultation at (978) 744-8000.

Who has the Right to File a Wrongful Death Suit

In the wake of the loss of a loved one, it is natural to feel devastated, confused, and overwhelmed. In addition to the emotional trauma, you may have to deal with the funeral arrangements, medical bills, and personal obligations in wake of the tragedy. Discovering that your loved one’s passing was caused by negligence, reckless action, or inaction often adds to the stress and pain you experience. You may want to file a wrongful death suit against those liable, but may not know if you can. Below is what you need to know about who has standing in wrongful death suits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Standing in Legal Cases

Standing is a legal concept shared by all common law systems around the world. The rules of standing determine what parties or individuals are allowed bring certain suits to court. Usually, laws of standing dictate that only individuals or parties that have directly suffered harm and can actually receive compensation for their harm can bring a claim forward as a plaintiff. For a wrongful death suit, this typically means someone directly affected by the loss. Every state determines its own rules for standing, much as they each determine the rule for other civil laws.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Massachusetts and New Hampshire?

Massachusetts and New Hampshire have radically different rules for standing in wrongful death cases. According to Massachusetts state law, only the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death suit to court. This means that even if the family of the deceased wants to bring action against a liable party, the executor must be the one to officially file before the statute of limitations expires. The executor of the estate is also responsible for recognizing a wrongful death—if they do not realize the death is a wrongful one through the reasonable course of their duties within the statute of limitations time frame, their standing can lapse.

New Hampshire, on the other hand, allows for anyone “interested in the estate” of a deceased person to bring a claim to court. This could be anyone who is mentioned in the deceased’s will or stands to gain from a wrongful death suit on their behalf. The law explicitly states that it does not matter if the plaintiff is an administrator of the estate for the purpose of filing. Even if the plaintiff passes away, the administrator of their estate can continue the wrongful death claim in their stead after affirming it in a writ.

Bringing a Suit to Court

Even though only certain individuals have standing in a wrongful death case, they are still allowed to hire an attorney to represent them in court and in legal processes. This is important because filing a civil claim, setting up arbitration or meditation, or taking your claim to trial can be exhausting and confusing, made worse by the emotions surrounding the loss of your loved one. The experienced attorneys of Mazow | McCullough, PC can help you determine your legal options and help you pursue your claim efficiently and professionally. If you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death, don’t delay, call us today for a free consultation.

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