No parent ever wants to consider a world in which their child dies before they do. It is a heartbreaking scenario that Pennsylvania mothers and fathers try to keep out of their heads but sometimes think about when news stories or events in their friends’ lives make real the potential of such unspeakable tragedies. The accidental death of a child through a vehicle collision, products liability incident or other event may give the family of the decedent the right to sue under the state’s wrongful death statute.
However, unlike when a wage-earning adult dies, the computation for damages for a child’s death can be more complex. When an adult dies a court can assess their earnings and contributions to their family to determine how much a responsible party should have to pay to compensate the survivors for their losses. Children in the United States generally do not earn wages and therefore it is more difficult to anticipate what their financial contributions to their families may have been.
Some courts use work-life expectancy charts to assess how much money a child may have made if they had lived to adulthood. General considerations regarding a child’s age, health and other personal factors may also weigh in on how damages should be assessed in their wrongful death case. Courts may also consider the relationship that the claimants had to the child in deciding how to compensate them for pecuniary losses related to the wrongful death of a child.
Wrongful death cases are always difficult from legal and emotional standpoints. When a child is involved, the challenges are exacerbated. Those who have lost young loved ones may benefit from speaking with personal injury attorneys about their potential legal claims.