The Challenges Of Collecting Adequate Compensation For The Death Of A Child

Putting a price on the life of a person who died is the hardest part of a wrongful death suit. However, it's even more difficult when children are the victims. It's an unfortunate reality that many parents are given small monetary awards in their cases, even though their emotional losses are big. Here is one reason why this occurs and what you can do to increase the odds you'll get a larger court award.

Difficult to Estimate Monetary Contributions

One reason why court judgments in wrongful death cases involving children are small is because it's difficult to accurately judge what the child's monetary contributions would have been to the family. In cases involving adult victims, the court usually factors in the amount of money the person would've earned over his or her lifetime.

For instance, a 45-year-old man dies due to medical malpractice. The court will calculate what he would've earned at his job for the next 25 years (assuming retirement at age 70) and award the family that amount. If he had a side business, the court may add the value of any contracts the person's company lost because he passed away.

Since most children aren't employed, this type of compensation is not available to parents. Even if the child does work—as is often the case with older teens—the parents must show that money he or she earned supported the family. For instance, a young girl earns income as a child actor. If the family lived off that money, the court would award the family compensation for what the child would have earned if she were still alive. On the other, the court probably wouldn't award parents for the kid's future earnings if she worked at McDonald's to get money for her personal use.

Getting Around This Issue

There are a couple of things you can do to increase the amount of money you receive in your wrongful death lawsuit. You can ask for compensation for other things besides potential income. For instance, some states let parents sue for the loss of the love and companionship of the child. The court will look at the child's age, health, relationship with the parents, and mental capacity and work out a number based on those factors.

The other option is to get the court to consider what the child would have contributed to the family had he or she survived. This option is more difficult because it requires the court to speculate whether the child would've supported the parents and in what capacity. For instance, if the family were farmers, the parents could argue the loss of the child also means the loss of a worker who could've helped with the business. The court may award compensation in consideration of that if the parents can make a compelling enough argument.

For more information about this issue or help with your wrongful death case, contact a personal injury attorney.