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Wrongful death and children

Car accidents can affect anyone, including the young and the old. Tragically, far too often a negligent driver causes a wreck that leaves a young child deceased. This can be heartbreaking for a surviving family, and the emotional toll can almost be too much to handle. However, once the family is ready and able to consider their legal options, they may be stumped as to how to show the financial value of their loss. While surviving families of deceased adults can turn to lost wages to calculate a portion of their damages, this cannot be done with children.

So, how are wrongful death damages calculated when a child is the victim? There are many factors at which a court will look. It will determine the age of the child, life expectancy, his or her health, earnings potential, the petitioner's relationship to the child, and the health and age of the individual seeking damages. It can be difficult to determine a value for such a loss and it is often speculative in nature. For this reason, it is typically harder to show financial loss for a young child's passing than it is for an older child's passing as it may be easier to see an older child's earning potential.

It is worth noting that courts often have rules against jury speculation, so juries are often referred to work-life expectancy tables for assistance. Awards in these instances may vary in size, but they can help a family achieve peace of mind and closure.

Though calculating the financial loss of a loved one can be challenging, surviving families may also be able to recover damages for their pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of support. To discover how best to pursue their claim, surviving families should think about consulting a legal professional.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly," accessed on Dec. 28, 2015

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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