The wrongful death of a child or elderly person differs substantially from the death of an adult and the potential monetary damages are usually significantly smaller. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward. In the case of the wrongful death of an adult, a child can sue for a number of quantifiable wrongful death damages. These typically include the loss of the parent’s earnings and potential earnings, advice, care, companionship, inheritance, etc. When a child dies, the parents’ potential for recovery is significantly decreased, based solely upon financial loss. The damages are based upon a number of factors, including:
- The personal information of the child, such as age, sex, health status, life and work expectancy, and potential for earning
- The relationship to the child of those filing the lawsuit (typically, though not necessarily the parents)
- The personal information of those filing the case, such as age, health status, and life circumstances
Life expectancy charts are often used to aid in these wrongful death determinations but the results still involve some degree of conjecture. Recoverable damages can still be substantial, but such instances are exceptions, rather than the rule. Similarly, recoverable damages in cases involving elderly persons are rarely substantial. This is due to their decreased earning potential as well as the life circumstances of the persons bringing the wrongful death lawsuit. Children of elderly persons typically do not require the care of their parents and do not have a significant need for advice, support, and companionship. Consequently, their loss is reckoned to be less and the potential pecuniary recovery is smaller.