What Damages are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Case?
Tennessee law permits the recovery of certain types of damages if a person has been killed as the result of the negligent conduct of another.
The first type of damages you can recover are the medical expenses that the decedent incurred from the moment of the injury until the time of their death.
Second, to the extent that the person had any lost wages during the period that they were injured but before they died, you can recover that as well.
Third, you can recover damages for the funeral bills that were incurred by reason of their death.
And finally and perhaps most importantly, you can recover what is known as the pecuniary value of life. Now pecuniary is sort of a funny word but it sort of means financial -- the financial value of life.
In Tennessee there are several different components to the pecuniary value of life. First of all, courts and juries look at the future loss of income of the decedent.
So for instance a 30 year old man might have a 35 year work life expectancy. Or a 40 year old woman might have a 25 year life expectancy that they would continue to be working.
And you look at their future income. You deduct certain of their living expenses to come up with the financial component of the pecuniary value of life.
But there is a non financial component as well. And that is known as the damages that are recoverable because of the loss of love, companionship, society and [inaudible] between the decedent and his or her immediate family.
So for instance if the husband in a family is killed, his wife may bring a lawsuit for his medical expenses, his funeral bills, his loss of income up until the time of death. And also recover damages for his loss of future earnings reduced by his personal maintenance expenses plus the damages for the loss of a husband.
If they have children, whether they are minors or adults, the wife can also bring a claim for those children for the loss of the relationship that they would've had with their father in the coming years.
As you can see, Tennessee law does a pretty good job of identifying those losses that flow from the death of a loved one.
As a lawyer who has practiced law in Tennessee for some 31 years, I've been very fortunate to have represented many families in wrongful death cases. I would be happy to sit down and talk with you at your convenience about your potential case.
I do not charge for a consultation on wrongful death cases or personal injury cases of any type. In the event that we determine that you have a valid case and we can help you, we are willing to accept representation on a no recovery, no fee basis.
Please give us a call and we will help you if we can.