Can a wrongful death lawsuit include punitive damages?

Personal Injury Attorney

If you lost a loved one unexpectedly in an avoidable accident, you may feel angry at the person responsible and may wish to punish them. This is common. If the person is not arrested and convicted of killing your loved one, you may be seeking ways to punish them in a lawful manner, such as filing a wrongful death lawsuit against them. In some cases, punitive damages may be warranted, and your wrongful death lawyer may suggest that they be included. Though money can’t reverse time, it can make it difficult for the perpetrator to enjoy a high standard of living if they must pay an enormous sum of money to the surviving family members. An attorney understand the delicate nature of losing someone in an act of negligence. 

What are punitive damages?

Not every state allows plaintiffs to receive punitive damages in successful wrongful death lawsuits. Also, not every case merits seeking punitive damages. After a careful review of the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s passing, our wrongful death can provide you with a clearer understanding of whether or not your request to the court should include punitive damages. In essence, it is a method of further punishing the defendant in direct proportion to the egregious wrong that they committed. Punitive damages are assessed in addition to what is known as compensatory damages. For example, if the defendant is accused of intentionally killing your loved one in an act of road rage and they subsequently fled the scene, your wrongful death lawyer may conclude that punitive damages should be assessed as part of the lawsuit.

What are compensatory damages?

Compensatory damages are at the heart of a wrongful death lawsuit. There are two types of compensatory damages, either or both of which might be included in your lawsuit, according to the advice of your wrongful death lawyer.

  1.   Special damages. These types of damages have a fixed dollar value. For example, the total cost of the medical treatment provided to your loved one that unfortunately did not save them, the funeral and burial costs, the amount of income they would have earned right up until retirement had they not passed away, etc. Special damages can be readily documented with receipts and invoices.
  2.   General damages. These types of damages are not as easily documentable and often require the insight of a seasoned wrongful death lawyer who bases the itemized values on legal precedents, recent jury awards, and the victim’s circumstances resulting from the harm perpetrated against them. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and anxiety. If the victim did not immediately succumb to their injuries, the general damages may be greater.

To discuss your case with our wrongful death lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, contact us today.



Thank you to the experts at Rispoli Law, PLLC for their insight into wrongful death cases.