But some bankruptcy courts may make damages resulting from "recklessness" or gross negligence non-dischargeable. Debts caused by drunk driving can't be discharged in bankruptcy.
But because the idea is that the survivors are injured by the absence of the person who died, you should also consider what probably would have occurred in the future. These damages may include:
Estimates of future earnings usually requires testimony from an expert witness.
Murder is determined in a criminal lawsuit. Wrongful death is determined in a civil lawsuit.
O.J. Simpson was charged with first degree murder in the state court in California. The jury found him "Not Guilty." A "not guilty" verdict means the state failed to prove the charges "beyond a reasonable doubt", which is the standard of proof in all criminal prosecutions. Criminal cases are brought on behalf of the citizens of a particular state or federal district, not by the victims or their families.
After O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in the criminal case, the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman sued him in the state court in California for wrongfully causing their deaths. Civil lawsuits for wrongful death are tried for money damages, not to put the defendant in prison. Civil cases are brought in the name of individuals, not in the name of the State.
The burden of proof in criminal and civil cases is different. In criminal cases, the standard is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." There is also a presumption of innocence that stays with the defendant until and unless the jury returns a guilty verdict. In civil cases, the standard of proof is "by a preponderance of the evidence," which essentially means "more likely than not," or put another way, proof by 51% or more.
Almost every state has enacted a statute permitting a lawsuit to be brought by the relatives of a person who died as a result of a wrongful act.