If you have had a loved one die as a result of medical negligence and have filed (or are about to file) a wrongful death claim, you are probably wondering how much compensation is awarded for such claims. It is a logical question that almost everyone in your shoes asks at some point in the process.
But first, a bit of a warning. If you are in a lawyer’s office and they claim that they can tell you exactly what your case is worth – particularly if they state it before examining all of the details of your unique case – please be advised to take that with a grain of salt, or two. Worse yet, if they attempt to guarantee any type of result, run the other way. Not only are lawyers not allowed to promise results, but even if we could, smart and honest lawyers would never do so. This is because nothing is ever guaranteed in law. The smallest detail, like a photo or a handwritten note, can make the difference between a multi-million dollar settlement or no recovery at all.
The circumstances of each case are vastly different, even if they look similar on the surface, and that is why you need an experienced professional by your side during the pendency of any case. We will weigh all the evidence and variables in your case and arrive at a fair settlement number – or take your case to trial and let the jury speak.
The task of assigning a monetary value to a human life is not an easy one, and it is not one that is taken lightly. Arriving at a proper number in any given case takes an extremely thorough examination of the evidence in the case and all the surrounding factors of the deceased’s life.
Many factors are considered, including but not limited to:
- How old was the decedent?
- How many good working years did they have ahead of them?
- Were they married?
- Did they support their spouse and children or contribute to the family budget?
- Did they care for the children?
- Did they care for any other family members on a regular basis?
And while these and other factors are considered, it is more streamlined to discuss the actual types of damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice wrongful death claim. There are basically two different types of damages that you can pursue in a such an action in Tennessee. The first group we’ll look at are called compensatory damages, because they compensate you for money already spent for the care of the deceased individual.
Compensatory or Economic Damages
A general note here: economic damages are easily calculable because there will be receipts or invoices that show the exact amount spent or billed for particular services. So all that must be done is to add up the expenses to arrive at a final number.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
When a loved one dies, there are obviously going to be expenses associated with their funeral, cremation, and/or burial. These costs can mount quickly and can necessitate loved ones digging into their precious savings. In order to help survivors, you are allowed to be compensated for these expenses.
Any medical expenses that are incurred before the victim dies are recoverable through a wrongful death suit.
Many times, an injured person is hospitalized or bed-ridden prior to their death. If your loved one was unable to work for any period of time before they succumbed to their injuries and died, then those lost wages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim.
The next group of damages we should look at are called non-economic damages. And as the name implies, these are damages that are a bit more nebulous than straightforward economic damages. There are no receipts or invoices for these types of damages, so experts are often needed to arrive at the proper number.
Future Potential Earnings
If your loved one had not been injured, they may have lived a long life, during which they would have worked and contributed to the household finances. The wrongful action of the defendant cut short their life and deprived the family not only of the company of their loved one, but of the financial support that he or she would have provided. The amount that the decedent would have reasonably made can be calculated and added to the compensation amount.
Loss of Consortium
This is a fancy way of saying that the surviving spouse has lost everything that is involved in the marital relationship. They have lost their friend, lover, intimate partner in life, emotional support, etc. This is referred to as loss of consortium and can be compensated for.
Loss of Parental Guidance
Children of the deceased are allowed to recover for loss of parental support and guidance that they would have received had their parent lived. Essentially, this is compensation for the defendant robbing the children of their mother or father.
These are damages that are allowed in medical malpractice cases where the negligence rises to the level of extraordinarily reckless behavior. Often, the plaintiff must prove malicious or ill intent on the part of the provider in order to get punitive damages. These amounts are used to punish the reckless behavior with the hope that the punishment will stop the defendant from behaving this way in the future.
Damages Cap in Tennessee
It is also important to keep in mind that Tennessee caps the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered in medical malpractice wrongful death cases. The cap is typically $750,000. However, where the medical malpractice results in catastrophic injuries – like amputation or paralysis – then the cap moves up to the maximum amount of $1 million.
Call Today for Your Free Case Evaluation
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one to medical malpractice in Tennessee, call us today, or contact us online to set up your free initial case evaluation. We can help you determine if you have a valid wrongful death claim, and if so, we can get busy right away, fighting for every penny that your case is worth. Don’t settle for low-ball insurance offers until you talk to one of our specialists. We look forward to assisting you.