Coping with the loss of a loved one can be the most difficult thing an individual will confront in his or her life, especially when that loss is caused by the negligence of another. While surviving family members certainly have to cope with the emotional pain caused by their loved one's passing, there is often also significant financial damages. A deceased individual's wages are suddenly cut off and medical and funeral expenses can rack up very quickly. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be one way to recover these losses, but what happens when the loved one who passes is not old enough to work?
Those who lose a child to the negligence of another can still file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, whereas the damages caused by the wrongful death of an adult is often calculated using their income, companionship as it relates to an adult relationship, and childrearing services, these factors do not apply to the loss of a child. Therefore, when assessing the damages caused by the death of a child, a court will look at several other factors.
These factors are wide-ranging and may be difficult to apply an exact value. The child's age, life expectancy, health, earning potential, and the relationship and health of those seeking damages. Assessing the value of these losses is mostly speculative, and can be even tougher to determine when the child is younger. Since juries awarding damages cannot simply guess as to the loss, they may confront court-approved tables and charts.
Though damages can be recovered for the loss of a child, it may be more difficult to recover a larger award. However, with strong legal advocacy, surviving family members may be able to reach a resolution that they find fair and favorable.
Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death: Children and the Elderly," accessed on Dec. 20, 2015