No matter the age of an individual, it can be very shocking and life-changing when a family member dies. This is especially true if a loved one is suddenly taken away from you because of the negligent acts of another person. Whether it is a car accident, a slip-and-fall accident, medical malpractice, a work accident or any other accident caused by negligence, surviving family members are often able to collect compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. This legal action not only helps with to recover compensation, but also helps with the application of liability on a negligent party.
When it comes to collecting compensation in a wrongful death action, the damages collected can be based on the age of the deceased. This could become relevant if the deceased is a child or elderly. While it isn’t a pleasant task setting a price on a person’s life, this is the only way the courts can ensure that surviving family members are properly compensated in a wrongful death action.
When a child dies in an accident, the financial loss is not easily assessed. Because a child is unlikely to be an income-earning individual, parents are likely to seek recovery that is limited to their financial losses. And, in these cases, this happens to be fairly small. The financial losses caused by the death of a child are determined by the age, sex, life expectancy, work expectancy, state of health, the habits of the child, the child’s earning potential, the relationship of the decedent and the party seeking pecuniary loss and the health, age and circumstances of those seeking pecuniary losses.
Much like when a child dies, when an elderly person dies it may be unlikely to produce a large award of damages. Obtaining a modest award for the wrongful death of an elderly loved one is due to several factors. It is often assumed that an elderly person is past the retirement age, meaning that they no longer are earning a significant income. Additionally, the children of elderly people are likely to be adults, meaning that they no longer need significant guidance, support or nurturing from their parents. These two factors alone can make it difficult to recover a large award for the wrongful death of an elderly person.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, it is important to understand your rights. While damages could be limited due to the age of a victim, this should not deter loved ones from seeking compensation.
Source: Findlaw.com, “Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly,” accessed June 24, 2017