Under the tort (accident/injury) laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, victims of assaults and shootings are entitled to make claims for financial compensation against at-fault parties. The types of financial compensation claims which may be made in an assault/shooting civil case depends on a key fact, i.e., whether the victim survived.
Scenario 1 – Victim Survives the Assault/Shooting
If the victim survives the assault/shooting, the victim can make financial compensation claims for financial losses and non-financial damages. Financial losses include literally all expenses incurred as a result of the assault/shooting, such as medical bills, lost wages and other miscellaneous financial expenses. For example, a shooting victim who is shot in the leg and can no longer perform house duties can make a claim for having to hire someone to help with cooking, cleaning, etc. Financial loss claims include not only the actual losses, or those that have already been incurred, they also include claims for reasonably anticipated future expenses. A shooting victim who will need future surgeries may make a claim for the projected cost of the surgeries and any related medical treatment.
Scenario 2 – Victim Dies After the Assault/Shooting
In assault/shooting cases in which the victim dies from the injuries, surviving family members would bring what is known as a wrongful death action, and, if the circumstances show that the victim survived the injuries for some period of time before dying, surviving family members may also bring a survival action. State law defines what types of claims for financial compensation.
As a general rule, in a wrongful death/survival action, claims may be made for financial losses such as medical bills, funeral expenses, etc. If the victim contributed to the family’s income (i.e., a parent), claims may be made for loss of the financial contribution. In addition, claims may usually be made for the loss of the victim’s emotional support, guidance, etc.
The issue of non-financial loss claims, i.e., pain and suffering is determined by the type of claim which is being filed. Basically, in a wrongful death action, claims cannot be made for pain and suffering (i.e., physical pain and mental anguish caused by the incident and injuries). That is because a wrongful death action is based on the death of the individual and does not consider how the death caused pain or suffering to the surviving family members. However, a claim for pain and suffering may be made in a survival action. That is because a survival action is based on how the incident and injuries affected the victim before the death. Basically, a survival action belongs to the injured victim, but because of the death, the action is passed to the survivors.
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