How Are Damages Calculated After the Wrongful Death of a Child?

Los Angeles has experienced yet another fatal pedestrian accident in 2018. This time, a 12-year-old boy was struck and killed in Pomona. According to police, the boy was running an errand for his family and trying to return home. He was struck by a driver who did not see the boy as he ran into the street. The driver’s view may have been obstructed by other cars on the road. An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

As the boy’s family tries to cope with the tragic loss of their son, they may consider taking legal action against the driver. The right to file a lawsuit does not disappear just because the victim of an accident dies. The family can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for the loss of their son.

Damages Available After the Wrongful Death of a Child

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can allow you to recover money after the unexpected loss of a loved one. The damages that are available in a lawsuit will depend on whether the victim was an adult or a child. Parents and family members of children killed in an accident may be entitled to damages that would not typically be awarded following the death of an adult.

Damages that may be available following the wrongful death of a child include:

Medical Bills: Medical bills and expenses incurred after an accident and before the child’s death. This could include costs for hospitalization, surgery, transportation, and medication.

Funeral and Burial Costs: The costs of a child’s funeral and burial can also be recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit. Costs can include travel, housing, and other costs that are necessary.

Value of Household Services: would the child have chipped in and helped out around the house had they survived? Would their role in the family have expanded as they grew up? If so, parents can ask to recover damages equivalent to the value of household services the child would have provided.

Loss of Companionship: Parents (and other family members) can seek to recover damages to compensate for the loss of companionship with their child. Companionship can include loss of love and affection, socialization, assistance, care, and community.

Loss of Gifts and Benefits: Plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit may also request compensation to account for the lost benefits and gifts a child would have given the parent over the course of his or her life. This can include things like pensions, retirement benefits, inheritances, and trust funds.

Loss of Financial Support: Many children grow up and contribute to their families financially. Sometimes this financial assistance comes after their parents retire. Other times, financial assistance may be necessary when a parent loses a job or becomes disabled. Either way, many parents rely on the help of their children to get by. When a parent loses a child in an accident, they have the right to request damages to make up for the value of financial support that the child would have contributed had they survived. This could include money the child would have paid during his or her life expectancy or the money that would have been paid before a parent’s death.

Calculating Damages Following the Wrongful Death of a Child

The truth is that it can be very difficult to calculate damages following the wrongful death of a child. Certain direct expenses, such as those for medical bills and a funeral, will be fairly evident. Other damages, including those for lost financial support, can be harder to identify. Children, especially those who are still fairly young when they die, probably haven’t mapped out a career or established a life plan. How can you be expected to determine what your child would have earned (and contributed) if they had lived a long, fulfilling life? How do you put a value on something like your child’s companionship?

Certain factors will be relevant when calculating damages in a case involving the wrongful death of a child. These may include:

  • The closeness of the relationship between the parents and child
  • The child’s age and gender
  • The child’s anticipated life expectancy
  • Whether or not the child had any special talents or skills, and
  • The degree to which a parent may need to depend on their child for support.

Since the value of damages will be very difficult to pinpoint, you can be certain that you will meet resistance from the defense. They will try to undercut the value of any damages you request. It will be important for you to work with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney who knows how to identify and value your damages.

Our attorneys have established valuable relationships with a variety of experts in the greater Los Angeles area. We use the assistance of these experts when we need to calculate hard-to-value damages. These experts review the information we gather and determine an appropriate value for a specific harm. Relying on reputable experts allows us to back up our request for damages with hard evidence and support. This will make it more difficult for defendants to contest the value you’ve placed on your lawsuit.

 

Have you been injured in a Los Angeles accident? Do you need help understanding your legal options? Contact our personal injury team to schedule a free consultation. We’re here to help you get the money you deserve for an unexpected injury.