Determining pecuniary injuries after a loved one's wrongful death

An accident can happen and can take the life of a loved one in an instant. While most people will never experience the harsh reality of this kind of incident, some Pittsburgh residents have to suffer with that reality. When someone dies in a sudden accident, like in a car accident or after a medical procedure, the jarring nature of the entire event can be very stressful. Beyond the actual emotional loss of the loved one, the surviving family member could also incur financial losses.

If an incident occurred in which it is suspected that another party was cause a person's death, this is more than just a simple accident. People and businesses can be potentially held accountable for accidental behavior that could have been prevented. Under Pennsylvania law, a deceased victim's surviving family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against any parties who may have caused the deadly accident.

One type of damages a family may hope to seek is under pecuniary damages, also known as financial damages. This is just one area of potentially compensable damages under personal injury law. Pecuniary damages are awarded in wrongful death suits based on the deceased person's financial situation at the time of death. The court may consider the decedent's earnings at the time of death, the last known earnings if unemployed, and potential future earnings.

This helps to cover family members for the loss of wages that occurs after a person's unexpected wrongful death. While lost wages are usually the last thing people are thinking about, the reality is that losing a spouse or a parent's wages over the course of their intended lifetime can have a huge impact. This impact can be very debilitating for family members to lose such a large source of financial security. Wrongful death suits aim to recover some for that loss.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death: Overview," Accessed Feb. 28, 2017

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