Life is unpredictable, and you can never be sure about what lies just around the corner. The worst thing you can face is losing a loved one unexpectedly. The situation is emotionally traumatic and hard to deal with. It can be even more painful when the person dies due to negligence, and their death could be avoided if someone (such as a driver or doctor) had been more careful. Wrongful death can invoke immense pain, rage, guilt, and frustration.
You will probably want to ensure that the person responsible for the situation should get the punishment they deserve. At the same time, you expect closure for yourself because only fair justice for your loved one can help you move on. The trauma can make life challenging for everyone in the family, but you can do your bit to return on the road to normalcy. Here are some tips to deal with the distress of the wrongful death of a loved one.
Understanding emotional distress
Losing someone you love leads to emotional distress and mental suffering, no matter how hard you try to come to terms with the truth. A wrongful death compounds your suffering, knowing that your parent, sibling, spouse, or child would have been alive had someone not acted negligently. Most survivors experience a mix of emotions in such an event. You may even feel different emotions at different stages. Denial and shock are often the first reactions, followed by guilt and pain. Anger and frustration hit the next as you feel the rage against the negligent person and frustrated because you could do nothing to save your loved one. Gradually, you accept, heal, and move on, but it is possible only after getting closure through justice for the deceased.
Knowing what makes emotional distress compensable
Nothing can recover for the loss of a loved one. But the legal system entitles the relatives of the deceased to claim compensation for the wrongful death. It includes the cost of damages, such as treatment expenses and funeral costs. You can even claim for your emotional distress and anguish. You will have to look for a wrongful death attorney to help you with the same. They can prove your distress in the court, establish its compensability, and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Here are a few examples of compensable emotional distress in such cases.
- A surviving spouse often has to deal with painful emotions such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The loss of a partner is unimaginable, and recovering from the pain can take a lifetime. It also entails the loss of consortium as one misses out on love and companionship, which is compensable.
- Surviving children may experience intense pain as they grow up without a parent. Missing their presence during millstones like graduations, weddings, and childbirth can leave a person emotionally scarred. They can claim compensation for the loss of parental support and guidance in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Parents of a deceased child are entitled to seek damages for their emotional pain due to the lost relationship. It is possible if a minor child dies wrongfully though the case becomes more complex for parents of adult children.
Claiming compensation for emotional trauma
Pain and suffering are the key elements a survivor has to prove to bring a claim against the negligent party who caused the wrongful death. Typically, a survivor can collect fair and just compensation for the emotional damage of losing a loved one in an avoidable situation. The damages are calculated by adding up the cost of emotional distress, sorrow, and mental anguish. They can also include solace in the form of companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice from the deceased.
However, the calculation part can be tricky because emotional distress falls under non-economic damages. You cannot present bills to validate their value in court. But you can seek reimbursement for the psychological and professional treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or another emotional condition requiring therapeutic support. Likewise, a seasoned attorney can help you calculate the value of your suffering and file a claim for it.
Insurance companies expect to settle wrongful death claims for as less as possible. They try their best to minimize the dollar value of emotional trauma of the survivors. But an experienced attorney can prove that you deserve the compensation and ensure that the guilty party has to pay. Moreover, they also get the person punished for their negligence. Knowing that your loved one gets justice is enough to bring closure and peace of mind to your family.