When a person loses their life as the result of someone else’s fault, Delaware law allows for the filing of a wrongful death claim. There are two parts of the claim. The first part is called a “survival” action. This type of action allows the decedent’s estate to make a claim for the decedent’s pain and suffering (but only if there was conscious pain and suffering before death), medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses. Damages paid to the estate will flow through to the beneficiaries of the estate. The second part of the claim is brought under Delaware’s Wrongful Death Statute. This statute allows for compensation to certain members of the decedent’s family.
The Wrongful Death Statute allows for a jury to consider the following elements of damage:
- The decreased value of the decedent’s estate because of her/his premature death;
- Loss of contributions for support;
- Loss of parental, material, and household services;
- Reasonable funeral expenses not to exceed $7,000; and
- Mental anguish to qualifying family members.