Wrongful death is a type of personal injury lawsuit that individuals would have filed for themselves had they survived the incident. In this case, a family member, limited to the decedent’s spouse, children or parents, file the suit instead. To prevail, the plaintiff must prove not only the third-party’s negligence but that it was responsible for their loved one’s death.
In a civil lawsuit for financial damages resulting from the loss of a loved one, the court must place a dollar value on that loss. Some financial damages are easier to quantify, while others are more difficult to place a price tag on.
While still uncertain in nature, multiplying the decedent’s current earning capacity by the number of years to their retirement can provide a basis for calculating lost earnings. However, there are additional variables to consider, for example, salary increases resulting from a potential future promotion.
As with lost earnings, a mathematical equation may estimate how much the decedent’s estate might have been worth had they lived. However, there are challenges in calculating this number because it requires using estimates and making assumptions.
Of all the potential damages, mental anguish caused by losing a loved one is arguably the most difficult to quantify. The same is true of the loss of companionship, guidance and protection the decedent can no longer provide.
No matter how high the number, financial compensation cannot make up for the loss of a loved one. However, if the deceased were the sole supporter of a family, it could ease the financial devastation that could ensue in their absence.