To set a price on the life of a person is never an easy nor pleasant task, but this is what juries and courts are sometimes pressed to do in wrongful death lawsuits. The primary measure of damages in these kinds of cases is through financial or pecuniary loss (as a result of loss of livelihood or income for the surviving family members). Hence, it poses even more of a challenge when the decedent is a child or an elderly person.
WRONGFUL DEATH OF A CHILD
The pecuniary loss when an adult dies is readily quantifiable. As an example, a child whose parent dies can file for damages for the loss of his or her parent’s income, care, guidance and nurturing. However, if it is a child who passes away, the pecuniary loss would be smaller and limited.
If the decedent is a child, then the pecuniary loss will be determined by:
- The earning potential of the child
- The sex, age, life and work expectancy, habits and state of health of the child
- The relationship between the parties claiming for the loss and the decedent
- The age, circumstances and health of the parties claiming for the loss
A lot of these factors are up for speculation, and historically, the younger the child is when he or she died, then the more challenging it is for parents or guardians to determine the pecuniary loss. The court may consider what the child would have been able to contribute had he or she not died, but this is something that cannot be guessed or inferred easily.
WRONGFUL DEATH OF AN UNBORN CHILD
There are several inquiries when it comes to wrongful death cases for unborn children. The rulings differ per state – many would only consider a wrongful death case for a child who has been born alive. This makes the wrongful death of an unborn child something that is not actionable from the parents’ side, nor can they claim for any emotional suffering that they had to endure as a result. To know your state’s laws, contact your personal injury attorney to discuss the state laws that apply to you.
WRONGFUL DEATH OF AN ELDERLY PERSON
Similar to a child whose pecuniary loss may not amount to as much, many have made only limited recoveries from the wrongful death of an elderly person. Such compensation is due to several factors – that the elderly is assumed to be past retirement age and no longer has a high earning potential, and that their children are most likely adults who will no longer need a significant amount of care, guidance, nurturing and support from their parents.
While these may seem to show that losing a child or an elderly because of wrongful death will not award as much compensation, this should not stop you from filing a case because you are fighting for the emotional loss that you are feeling. If you have lost someone because of the negligence of another person, we encourage you to contact us here at The Kyle Law Firm. We will help you win this fight and help you recover the damages you have sustained.