Wrongful death suits are innately difficult procedures for everyone involved. The very idea that a monetary award of any size can make up for the untimely loss of a human life may seem offensive to those walking through the process. Despite the emotionally volatile nature of a wrongful death suit, it is wise to be prepared for some of the ways the outcome may not play out exactly as it initially seems. In some situations, the damages a jury awards in a wrongful death suit may be adjusted after the fact.
Although a jury is tasked with awarding damages to the affected parties in a wrongful death suit, the jury does not have the last word on this judgment. A court may choose to increase or decrease the jury’s award based on a number of factors. If the deceased party (the decedent) has been demonstrated to have regularly mishandled his or her income, or if the decedent had very low earnings in general, a court may decide to decrease the damages awarded.
Sometimes a jury will award damages to surviving family of a decedent who was unemployed at the time of his or her death, based on average income data from previous employment. In this case, the plaintiff faces the burden of providing acceptable documentation as evidence of these previous earnings. In cases where a plaintiff cannot produce acceptable documentation of earnings, the court may choose to invalidate a jury’s award entirely and order a new trial altogether.
A wrongful death suit is always a hurtful and difficult process for all involved, but it should not also be financially devastating. The representation of an experienced wrongful death attorney can help ensure the rights of the affected parties are protected and the best possible settlement is reached.