How is a child's life evaluated in a wrongful death case?

The loss of a child's life in an automobile accident is a tragedy that no Alameda family should ever have to bear. Yet, far too often, families are confronted with this reality. As we've discussed previously, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide some measure of accountability as well as protection for a family's financial stability. But, how does a judge or jury decide what amount of compensation to award for the loss of a child's life?

Strictly speaking, compensation for the loss of a child's life will be based on the financial losses the family has suffered as a result. There is a fair amount of speculation involved in this determination. Considerations include the age, health and life expectancy of the child as well as those of the parents or other family members pursuing the claim.

Perhaps one of the major considerations in a child wrongful death case will be how much the child might have earned over the course of a lifetime. Here, it will be easier to calculate a reasonable amount for an older child who might have some early work history established and likely an academic record. Juries may also refer to tables that can calculate future earnings based on given factors.

For these same reasons, unfortunately, the death of a very young child can be incredibly difficult to evaluate in terms of compensation in a wrongful death suit. There are rules that prevent juries from simply guessing or making up awards, and these rules can limit the amounts parents might receive. A legal professional can play a crucial role at this point in the process and argue as to what the financial impact of the loss will be for the grieving family based on evidence traditionally accepted in court.

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