On the nation’s highways approximately 45,000 people are killed every year. Defective airplanes, boats, cars, construction, explosions and numerous other ways have cause people to lose their lives as a result of the negligence and defective products of others. Many of those killed have left wives, husbands, children and others dependents upon their income, their support, their love and companionship. They are gone forever and their loss will be suffered forever by those left behind.
Under the law, when a person is killed by the negligence or defective product of another, that other person may be held responsible for the death. However, a set of laws then applies specific to wrongful death lawsuits.
First, the negligence and/or defective product must be established to the jury and the court. Depending upon what mechanism or product was involved, various laws defining negligence and product defect must be applied. Only then can an assessment of damages to which you are entitled be considered by the jury. In selecting a lawyer to represent you for the loss of a loved one, it is critical that the lawyer have experience and knowledge in the area of the mechanism which cause the death.
Second, what can be your damages. These laws will vary from state to state including various limitations on the amounts that may be recovered. However, you will be entitled to burial expenses. You will be entitled to show how much the decedent financially supported you or contributed to your welfare. This amount will then be projected forward and totaled for the anticipated life and earning capacity of the decedent.
Finally, through your and other persons testimony, you will be able to show what and how the decedent showed love, comfort, society, companionship and the other things of the relationship. The jury will then determine how that would amount to a certain amount of money solely within their discretion. The court usually does not give any specific guideline except to say to the jury that it is up to their collective reasoning to make that determination. In some states, there is a limit to the amount of money that may be awarded for this loss. In Oregon, for instance, it is $500,000.
You should look for a lawyer who has the background, knowledge, and experience in trials in presenting wrongful death cases and has the skills to assist the juries how to assess damages under wrongful death situations. The skill of that lawyer in presenting your loss of love comfort society and affection of the decedent to the jury is the most critical aspect of any case brought against those responsible.