Wrongful death claims for deceased minors can include a claim for the loss of future wages. How is this possible if the deceased child never worked a day or died while still an infant? In fact, this is the question of doubt that defense lawyers use to sow doubt or to attempt to diminish the value of a claim in the minds of juror when discussing this portion of the wrongful death claim of a minor.
However, a good wrongful death lawyer does not shy away from pursuing a future wage loss claim when representing the relatives of the deceased child when the possibility for doing so exists. What does a wrongful death lawyer do to calculate the future lost earnings of a deceased child? Admittedly, the process used is not perfect but it is a process that courts generally accept.
When calculating wage loss for a working adult, the already existing work history of the injured adult can be used to create a fairly accurate estimation of potential future earnings.
In the case of a deceased child, where there is no work history to consult, the work history must be created using a reasonable and acceptable method of doing so. One reasonable and acceptable method by United States Courts is to use sociological and statistical data to determine potential lost wages.
A wrongful death lawyer and his vocational experts will consult various sources of literature to calculate the costs of the deceased child’s future wage loss.
Lost wages are associated with the projected ‘work lifetime’ of the deceased. To determine the length of the work lifetime of the deceased, a vocational expert will consult the relatives of the deceased to determine the life span of their relatives. Additionally, an expert would consult literature published by the Department of Labor and the U.S. Government to project what the life expectancy and work life expectancy is in the area (county and zip code) that the deceased minor lived. The household size and composition relating to both the region of the deceased and that of the deceased’s existing family history would be used to determine potential future lost wages. The personal history of the deceased’s family combined with demographic probabilities create a basis to calculate potential life span average and work lifespan average.
Additionally, statistics related to existing health conditions in a given area and/or related to the family of the deceased child, the race of the deceased, and the average years of education of the deceased relatives and others in that area would also play a role in determining potential lost wages. The court also allows an expert to introduce the educational attainment and occupations of the parents of the deceased child. It has been argued that parents who are college graduates or business owners can reasonably expect that their child would have the same capacity.
If the deceased child is a minor who attends school, school records would be looked at by both sides in an attempt to determine the child’s potential.
If the child was already in high school, any documentation evidencing career aspirations can be submitted. For instance, if the child had an aspiration of serving special need children after graduating college, and was already volunteering, accepted by a university specializing in that field and/or working as an intern in that field, this could be used to support the potential future wage loss claim. In fact, if the demographic or sociological statistics were ‘average’ for an individual, provable career aspirations would help demonstrate that the lost career and future lost wages were more than ‘average’ for the deceased child.
Explaining these details is not meant to present a cold analysis of data relating to the death of a child. In fact, the opposite is true. A wrongful death lawyer wants those who lost a child to obtain the greatest recovery possible. A good wrongful death lawyer also wants client’s to understand the process. It is with this in mind that I explain this process.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer. Prior to trial and mediation, I like to meet with my clients and get a biography so that I can present to a jury that besides the demographic data, the lost child and their family, lost dreams, hopes and aspirations.
If you lost a child due to the negligent actions of another, please call me promptly at (916) 921-6400. I am happy to provide you with fast, free, friendly advice at no obligation to you. When calling outside of Sacramento County, feel free to call (800) 404-5400.
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