how much can you sue for wrongful death

Nothing could ever replace the life of a loved one. Families often face financial challenges and severe emotional distress after a loved one’s death, leading them to question whether they should bring a lawsuit. Maine law gives surviving family members the right to sue when their loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional act. But how much can you sue for wrongful death? Recent changes to the law will increase the amount available in many cases. We break it down below.

How Much Will You Receive If You Sue for Wrongful Death in Maine?

Maine wrongful death claims are brought by the deceased’s personal representative or special administrator, with proceeds paid directly to the descendant’s legal beneficiary (depending on the circumstances, this could be the surviving spouse, minor children, adult children, or other legal “heirs”). These types of actions compensate for the financial losses associated with the death of a loved one, lost financial support, the cost of hospital care, and funeral expenses, as well as the lost comfort, society, and companionship of the deceased and emotional distress arising from the death event. Punitive damages (additional money awarded to punish or deter the defendant) may also be available in some cases.

In addition to wrongful death claims (governed by statute), Maine also allows common law “survival claims” to compensate for the deceased’s pain and suffering caused by negligence until death. Unlike a wrongful death claim, awards for “conscious pain and suffering” under the survival act must go to the deceased estate to be distributed accordingly to beneficiaries of the estate.

Every wrongful death suit is different, and the amount you may recover will depend on many factors. These include your loved one’s age and income, the amount that person suffered, the cost of medical or other expenses related to the death, and the degree of emotional distress suffered by the deceased’s family members. When evaluating these questions, it is important to have a dedicated and experienced wrongful death lawyer to fight for your right to get the maximum compensation available.

Until recently, Maine law has allowed for compensation of up to $750,000 in compensation loss of comfort, society, and companionship. After 2023, a new law will allow up to $1,000,000 for lost comfort, society, and companionship (with this amount to adjust automatically with the cost of inflation). The law also allows up to $250,000 in recovery for punitive damages in a wrongful death action. In addition, there is no limit to how much you can sue for economic damages related to the death, such as funeral expenses, medical treatment expenses, and how much your loved one would have contributed to support your family had their life not been cut short. Finally, there are no caps on survivor claims, such as those seeking compensation for conscious pain and suffering before death.

Range of Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases

At Garmey Law, we have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of families who lost loved ones due to the negligence or bad conduct of another. Although each case is different, one thing is always the same: we will fight to ensure our clients receive the best settlement or verdict possible.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

To bring a lawful death case, someone else’s negligence or intentional actions must have caused or contributed to your loved one’s death. Negligent acts include medical malpractice, car accidents, construction-site negligence, unsafe premises, and unsafe products. Intentional acts include murder or other crimes.

What to Expect in a Wrongful Death Case

In Maine, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the personal representative or special administrator of the deceased person’s estate. The compensation will be distributed to the loved one’s heirs. 

If you choose to work with the Garmey Law wrongful death legal team, we will investigate the cause of your loved one’s death, gather evidence showing who was at fault, and build a case showing the full extent of your loved one’s medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the many ways that the loss of your loved one has affected your life. We will negotiate with the insurance company of the negligent person or company. Most wrongful death cases settle before trial, but we will go to court if it’s to your best advantage to do so. To learn more about whether you should sue for wrongful death, call Garmey Law at (207) 481-4683, or contact us online for a free consultation.