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Senior citizens, children and wrongful death lawsuits


If any injury results in death due to the negligence of another, the latter may be held liable for wrongful death. Wrongful death is an integral principle under tort laws. The courts in most states in the United States, including New Jersey, evaluate the level of compensation due to the family members of the victim based on various criteria. Some of these determinants may be age, earning capacity, whether the victim was the sole earning member of the family, and so on.

While it may be easier to evaluate the damages paid to the family of an earning adult, it may prove to be more difficult for senior citizens and children. It must be noted that in most wrongful death lawsuits, damages are measured not only on the last drawn salary of an adult but also on emotional damage that may have caused to the family. However, if parents lose their child to a wrongful death, only the financial estimate is brought into play while the emotional distress caused is not considered during the evaluation. The financial loss incurred may be determined in this case by the life expectancy, age, health and earning potential of the child lost to the parents. Many of the evaluations are speculative rather than exact.

Many times it is up to the jury to determine what the child would have financially contributed to the parents. Thus, it may be imperative in such cases to get professional help to make a good case as to the present and future financial loss incurred by the parents of the deceased child.

In many cases, loss of a fetus may also be liable for pecuniary damages. However, many states vary considerably in recognition of a fetus an as an individual human to begin with, hereby affecting the outcome of such wrongful death lawsuits.

The death of the elderly may also be subject to limited pecuniary damage recovery in wrongful death lawsuits. Many factors contribute to limiting the pecuniary damages in such cases. Courts usually assume that a senior citizen past his or her prime has limited earning potential even if they collect pensions. Furthermore, offsprings of such retirees are usually adults themselves earning their own way. This may lead to the conclusion that the adult children may not need much financial compensation in such cases.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly," Accessed on Aug. 7, 2014

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