When final amounts are calculated, the law takes into consideration any other payments from “collateral sources”. These include insurance payments (other than life insurance), worker’s compensation, employee benefit programs and Social Security. There are only two situations where this is appropriate. The first is in a medical malpractice lawsuit and the other is when heirs of a public employee are suing his or her employer or a fellow worker in a wrongful death or personal injury case.
Death of the Elderly, Children, or Unborn Children
Courts and juries are obligated to determine a price on human life in wrongful death cases. The death of children and the elderly complicate the resolution of financial compensation for a jury. Due to the variations in ages, potentials and more, assistance from a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney will assist in estimating the damages that may be received when bringing a wrongful death action based on the death of a child or an elderly person.
Elderly. The death of an elderly person has limited recovery potential and modest awards. Two main reasons apply in this situation. The first is that their earning potential is not considered to be significant; their children are usually adults with their own means of income. The other reason is that since their children are adults, they are not in as much need of emotional support and guidance from their parents as young children would be.
Children. The wrongful death of a child conveys even more factors in determining an adequate damage award than an adult. The jury has to review the child’s age, sex, and health status as well as their habits and earning potential. Juries also see the relationship a child had with the parents or guardians as well as the health and circumstances of the parents or guardians when determining pecuniary (financial) loss. Other items the jury need to consider is the potential for contributing to the parents’ support and how long they may have lived until a natural death. All of these factors confound the issues in a jury’s determination even more so with extremely young children. Some speculation is required, yet the courts have varying rules in determining awards. Deciphering these rules is time consuming and qualified wrongful death attorneys have already done this to better assist their clients.
Unborn Children. Many call unborn children fetuses. Expectant parents are usually looking forward to the new addition, craving the joy of taking care of their child. Many laws do not consider a “fetus” a human being until it takes it first breath, and wrongful death may not occur before this. When the death of an unborn child may be a wrongful death, seeking the advice of a wrongful death lawyer to seek out the laws in the state you are in is advisable.
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