How Much Is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth?

If you are considering seeking compensation for the loss of a loved one, you are likely wondering how much a wrongful death claim is worth. Not only will this help you make an informed decision about whether to move forward; but, when the time comes, it will also help you make an informed decision about when (and if) to settle. 

Calculating the value of a wrongful death claim is a complex process that requires experienced legal representation. Every claim is different, and what your family’s claim is worth depends on several factors that are unique to your particular circumstances. 

Two Categories of Damages in Wrongful Death Cases in Arkansas

Under Arkansas Code § 16-62-102, wrongful death is defined as occurring when a loss of life “is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default” that would have entitled the victim to compensation had they survived. In other words, when you lose someone dear in an accident that was not their fault, you may be entitled to pursue damages.

Understanding the value of your family’s claim starts with understanding the types of losses your family is entitled to recover. These losses (or “damages”) fall into two broad categories: special damages and general damages.

Special Damages in an Arkansas Wrongful Death Case

Special damages cover the financial costs of a loved one’s untimely passing. Some common examples of special damages in Arkansas wrongful death cases include:

  • End-of-Life Medical Expenses – If your loved one received medical care prior to his or her passing, your family can seek just compensation (or reimbursement) for his or her end-of-life medical expenses. 
  • Funeral, Burial, or Cremation Expenses – In wrongful death cases in Arkansas, families can also seek just compensation for the costs of laying their loved one to rest. 
  • Future Earnings – Parents, children, spouses, and other eligible family members can seek financial compensation for the loss of their loved one’s future earnings, including wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, and other forms of income. 
  • Future Retirement Benefits – Along with loss of future earnings, eligible family members can also seek financial compensation for the loss of their loved one’s future retirement benefits. 
  • Other Financial Losses – Arkansas’s wrongful death law allows eligible family members to seek just compensation for any other out-of-pocket costs that they incur as a result of their loved one’s untimely death as well. 

General Damages in an Arkansas Wrongful Death Case

While special damages compensate families for the financial costs of their loved ones’ wrongful deaths, general damages provide compensation for their non-financial losses. This includes (but is not limited to) losses such as:

  • Emotional Suffering – Arkansas law allows eligible family members to recover just compensation for the emotional suffering they experience as a result of their family member’s death. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress – Witnessing the death of a loved one can cause severe post-traumatic stress, and Arkansas law allows for the recovery of just compensation for PTSD in wrongful death cases as well. 
  • Anxiety – Along with emotional suffering and post-traumatic stress, it is not uncommon for family members to experience severe anxiety after unexpectedly losing a loved one. Claims for general damages can also include compensation for anxiety. 
  • Forced Changes to Lifestyle – Losing a loved one unexpectedly can change all aspects of your life. In Arkansas, general damages claims can also include compensation for forced changes to lifestyle. 
  • Loss of Companionship – In Arkansas, eligible family members are also entitled to receive just compensation for their loss of companionship following a loved one’s wrongful death. 

Determining the Value of Your Family’s Wrongful Death Claim

Once you have a clear understanding of the types of losses your family is entitled to recover, the next step is to determine the value of your family’s wrongful death claim. While certain aspects of this process can be relatively straightforward (i.e., adding up your loved one’s end-of-life medical expenses), others can be much more complicated. 

This is where working with an experienced Arkansas wrongful death lawyer comes into play. A lawyer who has experience representing families in wrongful death cases will be able to work closely with you, your loved one’s personal representative, financial planners, psychologists and psychiatrists, and other experts as necessary to paint a comprehensive picture of the long-term financial and non-financial costs of your loved one’s untimely passing. With this information in hand, you and your family can make informed decisions about pursuing a wrongful death claim, accepting or rejecting settlement offers, and taking your case to court if necessary. 

Schedule a FREE Consultation with an Arkansas Wrongful Death Lawyer at Oliver Law Firm

If you need more information about filing a wrongful death claim in Arkansas, we encourage you to schedule a FREE, no-obligation case evaluation at Oliver Law Firm. 

To speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in confidence, please call 479-202-5200 or tell us how we can reach you online today. We welcome clients across Arkansas and throughout the United States from our office in Rogers, AR.