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Children and the elderly: Awards for wrongful deaths

When an elderly person or child is killed because of negligent actions, the family of that person can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. One of the things to remember about these claims is that children and elderly adults are treated slightly differently by the courts. In any wrongful death case, you have to consider how much the person is worth, even though that can be a difficult thing to try to discuss.

While no person's worth can be based in financial earnings alone, the person's potential earnings or lack thereof makes a difference to the case.

Several other factors considered in court include the age, sex, life expectancy, health and habits of a child. The child's earning potential is considered, as is the relationship of the child to the decedent. Those claiming pecuniary losses may also have their ages considered when the award is calculated.

A work-life expectancy table will likely be used when a child's potential earnings are unknown, because the court can't pull a number without something on which to base the award.

When an elderly loved one dies because of someone else's reckless actions or negligence, there are often not a lot of damages that can be awarded. These individuals have limited recovery potential because of their ages. They no longer have significant earning potentials, and their children may be adults who don't necessarily need support or guidance in their adult lives. Everyone's situation is different, though, and your attorney may focus on the necessity of that person in your life to help maximize your award.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly," accessed Jan. 19, 2017

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