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What Do Wrongful Death ‘Pain and Suffering’ Damages Cover?

Plaintiffs in both personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death cases have the right to demand noneconomic damages that most people call “pain and suffering.” 

When people file personal injury claims on their own behalf, Virginia law allows them to seek payment for the physical pain emotional anguish and inconvenience they have already experienced and will experience in the future. These are called noneconomic damages because, unlike medical procedures and lost wages, there are no set prices for physical discomfort or post-traumatic stress and depression.

In wrongful death cases, the deceased individual’s pain and suffering does not factor directly into a settlement or court award, Rather, family members or estate representatives seek noneconomic damages in recognition of their own “sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include [loss of] society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice.” This statutory language of section 8.01-52 of the Virginia Code covers things like comfort and advice from a spouse, assistance provided to siblings and aging parents, and parenting for children.

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Note, too, that any wrongful death settlement or jury award will also include economic damages. This money represents the actual costs of the victim’s death. As listed in the Virginia Code, economic damages in a wrongful death case include

  • Estimated lifetime earnings of the person who died
  • Medical bills prior to death
  • Funeral expenses

Working with an experienced and caring Virginia wrongful death attorney will help a plaintiff calculate a just amount of compensation for pain and suffering. Sorrow does not carry a price tag, but the terrible experience is all too real. And while no monetary payment will not make up for the loss of love, companionship and support, the person or organization that is responsible for taking those things away should be made to compensate family members for their loss.

EJL

Seth Scott
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Norfolk, Chesapeake & Va Beach Injury Attorney