The complications of wrongful death actions, pt. 1

Wrongful death actions are brought by surviving loved ones or estates on behalf of the deceased. Wrongful death actions are difficult cases to bring. There are the raw emotions that are torn open every time the case is discussed. Additionally, wrongful death actions operate differently for children and elderly plaintiffs. This article will go over the differences for children.

The purpose of a wrongful death action is twofold. First, it attempts to allocate fault or blame for the passing. Second, it tries to place an economic value on that person's life. The first part operates similarly to any other lawsuit. But, the second part is very different.

Placing a value on a human life is not possible. There is no way to capture the potential value of a human life, especially a child's life. But, that is not feasible for the judicial system. Therefore, there are a series of rules to calculate lifetime earning potential. The court considers the following factors:

  • Their earning potential.
  • The age, sex, life and work expectancy of the deceased person.
  • The health habits and life habits.
  • The relationship of the deceased with those claiming the loss.
  • The court also considers the potential to bear children, love and nurture relationships.

Children bringing a wrongful death action for their parent can claim loss of companionship however parents cannot. This limits actions to recover for children to economic losses. For an adult, this calculation is relatively easy. The court has a wealth of information to draw these inferences, as stated above. Conversely, children have an incomplete education, are still developing and have no work history. The younger the child, the more the court must speculate.

If you were involved in a serious accident with family in the car, then you may want to contact an attorney. These cases, as discussed above, can become very complicated. No amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one. However, it does help ensure that your family has a steady source of income while you navigate this tragedy. An attorney may be able to help you get that money so you can focus on what is important: your health and the health of your family.

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T.J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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