Calculating Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
It is important to provide compensation for the person who otherwise would have had the services of the deceased but for the negligence of somebody else. That is the whole theory behind calculating damages for the loss of a loved one is to hold the person responsible for the losses they caused by their negligence.
A wrongful death lawyer in Winston-Salem can help an individual gather everything necessary to secure the appropriate damages due to the loss of your loved one.
Loss of Future Income
When calculating the damages for a person’s loss of future income, the court will take into account the individual’s age, education, and salary. As a general rule, to be recoverable, damages have to be reasonably certain.
The death, for example, of a 19-year-old, becomes a challenge because they may not have completed their education or established a salary. At best, the law would be willing to impute minimum wage on that person. assuming that they were physically capable of carrying on at least a job earning minimum wage. However, if it could be showed that this person was going to be making a large six-figure salary a year for the rest of his or her life the court may be able to award more.
Recoverable damages have to be reasonably certain. The pre-death history or conduct coupled with any evidence that existed from the decedent’s employer to project out a promotion or raise would be considered. Maybe this person was on some sort of a tenure track with guaranteed promotions and salary increases at regular intervals. That would be an easier case to prove than someone maybe who was self-employed or had more of an entry-level job than had been employed for quite some time.
Typically, the role of the lawyer would be to gather the evidence, pay stubs, income tax returns, and information of that sort. They would give it to an expert or an economist who can calculate the damages owed by the loss that would be over the person’s expected lifetime.
What is interesting about economist expert witness testimony is how they reduce the grand total of what is lost to today’s dollar. because a dollar today is going to be worth more than a dollar ten years from now if invested properly.
Loss of Companionship
When calculating the loss of companionship damages, much of it depends on the nature of the relationship, such as spouse, child, or parent of the loved one. It also depends on the pre-death history of that relationship.
In the parent-child context, not every parent is with every child. The court will consider if a parent lives in the same household and interacts with the child on a daily basis. Those facts would be relevant to the calculus of what is the actual value of the loss of companionship.
There are a number of relevant factors that decide whether or not people are entitled to receive wrongful death benefits for the loss of the loved one, however, most importantly is the closeness of the familial relationship and how reliant the family was on the loved one’s income.
Sometimes when the descendent and the heir are distant cousins, they are called laughing heirs, because, those are generally not thought to be close relationships.