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Measuring the cost of a child's wrongful death


The death of a child in a motor vehicle accident is always a tragedy for the family and the community at large. When the accident was caused by the negligence of another person, Louisiana law allows the parents to bring a wrongful death lawsuit and recover monetary damages. But how does one calculate the financial cost of a child's death?

In a wrongful death case, the jury is required to come up with a measure of damages to compensate the family for their loss. When the victim is a child, the damages will consist primarily of the child's future earning potential. In making this determination, the jury will be instructed to consider a number of factors, including the age, life expectancy and health of the child. The child's habits, as well as his or her performance at school and in extracurricular activities will also be relevant.

The younger the child, the more difficult this calculation becomes. It is one thing to calculate the earning potential of a high school student who was getting straight A's and was accepted to a good college. It is quite another to calculate that potential when the victim was a toddler. Nonetheless, juries must come up with a figure based on the evidence that is available.

In many of these cases expert witnesses, including vocational experts and economists, will testify as to the child's future career prospects and earning potential. It is also important to remember that in addition to earning potential, parents can recover funeral expenses, final medical expenses and the loss of the child's companionship. An experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorney can help the family navigate the court process and recover fair compensation for their loss.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly," accessed June 27, 2016

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