When a family member is killed as the result of the careless act of another, whether it be in a motor vehicle, due to a medical mistake, the result of a product defect or the result of an unsafe premises, the surviving family members are entitled to certain damages as set forth by our legislature. These legislative acts are called the Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act.
Damages available to the estate of the decedent per the Survival Act are damages the deceased suffered from the moment of the injury to time of death. These damages include the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering and loss of earnings.
The damages are granted to the estate beneficiaries as established by the will, if it exists. If there is no will, these damages are distributed to the decedent’s family by the rules of “intestacy”.
Wrongful death damages recoverable by the family include the Medical, Funeral and Estate Administration expenses incurred. More importantly, the family can recover the value for the loss of the decedent’s services, including most significantly, the value of companionship and comfort lost.
The terms services, companionship and comfort are not limited to simply things like household chores, but instead extend to the profound emotional and psychological loss suffered by the surviving parent, spouse or child.