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Can a judge reduce a jury's wrongful death award?

It's never easy to lose a loved one, and the tragedy can be amplified when the sudden loss of a loved one is caused by the negligence of another. While the heartache is certainly more than enough to leave some families struggling to get by, they often also have to come to terms with the financial realities of such a loss. Medical expenses, funeral costs and lost wages can shake a family's financial foundation and set them on a life-altering course. This is why, in these instances, it is critical that surviving families in Connecticut consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

A successful claim may bring a family much needed compensation to help cover their damages. The actual amount that is awarded is left to jury, if the matter goes to trial, but their determination may not be the final say. In fact, the judge may adjust the award higher or lower. Why would the judge do this? There are a variety of reasons. For example, a judge may reduce a jury's award if the amount awarded for lost compensation was based on the individual's potential rather than actual earnings. The award might also be decreased if the deceased was known to waste his or her money.

But damage awards can also be increased by a judge. For example, a jury may not award much for lost compensation because the deceased was unemployed the time of death. If a plaintiff puts forth evidence showing that the deceased had been employed in the past, though, a judge may award compensation for lost wages based on average income while employed.

It can be tough to think about financial needs during a time of grieving. However, adequately preparing a wrongful death claim can be critical for a family's financial future. Therefore, those thinking about filing a claim may want to seek out assistance from a personal injury attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed on June 27, 2016

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