Non-Economic Damages in Fairfax Wrongful Death Cases

Trying to calculate non-economic damages in wrongful death cases in Fairfax can be confusing and difficult, which is why it is important to consult with a Fairfax wrongful death attorney to assist with the process. An experienced lawyer can help by quantifying the amount of damages and guiding those impacted through the steps toward filing a successful claim. To learn more or discuss what to do next, call and schedule a consultation today.

Defining Non-Pecuniary Losses

It is difficult to say in general how non-economic damages are proven in each case because every wrongful death case is unique. In some cases testimony of family members will be important. In other cases extensive documentation such as letters and things of that nature are offered. This allows the fact finder to make that connection with beneficiaries to understand the non-economic loss that was suffered. It really varies by case, and an experienced wrongful death attorney can outline with the beneficiaries how they want to present that type of evidence.

Factors in Quantifying the Loss of a Loved One

There is no straightforward calculation in a non-pecuniary loss under the statute 8.01 – 52. Although the loss cannot be measured precisely, the plaintiff must present certain evidence to the fact finder – the judge or the jury – to give them a reasonable approximation of the fairness of the numbers requested. It is possible to suggest a number and present evidence that supports that number, but for things like love, loss of affection, companionship, and comfort, all these things are really case-by-case scenarios.

Loss of Companionship

For example, loss of companionship is not calculated the way that economic damage is calculated. It is a non-economic damage so it needs to be calculated through the presentation of personal, emotion driven evidence such as direct testimony of beneficiaries, friends, neighbors, and relatives, describing how that person’s companionship affected their lives and how that person’s loss will leave a void in their lives. The testimony is very powerful and emotional and it is something that really varies significantly in each case.

Expert testimonies are necessary for the loss of companionship as a non-pecuniary damage if they are going to use lay testimony to ask the court to consider a number for the loss of companionship. Certainly loss of income and economic damages need to be proven through expert testimony, but the fact finder may award a non-pecuniary loss even without direct evidence. They can look at certain calculations like life expectancy tables under the Virginia Code, but those are discretionary, not binding. Therefore they can be helpful, but testimony by the beneficiaries is typically used to document the non-economic losses.