Only certain people have the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages for the wrongful death of a child. While each state has its own specific rules, as a general matter, the child’s parents or an administrator can file suit against the responsible party. If the parents are divorced, special rules apply. Occasionally, due to family circumstances, wrongful death cases involving children can become very complicated. Sometimes disputes arise between divorced parents or among family members as to how the case should be handled. Often, more than one person is entitled to recover a portion of the damages awarded. An experienced wrongful death lawyer Memphis, TN depends on can talk with you, learn about your family situation, and advise you on your potential rights.
Wrongful deaths can be caused by a variety of tragic circumstances or events, including car accidents. However, an auto accident lawyer Memphis, TN residents trust can help in these challenging times. Damages in a case involving the wrongful death of a child are decided on a case-by-case basis. A jury will look at all of the facts and circumstances and make an award. Legally speaking though, the categories of damages recoverable in each state will be set forth by statute. The general categories are:
- Injuries Suffered by the Child From Injury Until Death. This classification allows recovery for medical expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and loss of earning capacity during the period from injury to death.
- Incidental Damages sustained by the Child’s Next of Kin. This classification of damages includes the pecuniary value of the child’s life. The “pecuniary value” of a deceased child’s life represents the value of the child’s probable future financial accumulations at the time of the child’s death. A court will consider the following factors: life expectancy and age, condition of health, capacity for earning money through a skill, art, trade, profession, occupation or business, and personal habits. It can be helpful to have expert testimony concerning the valuation of a child’s pecuniary losses.
- Loss of Consortium/Filial Consortium Damages. Pecuniary value also includes the value of human companionship. Parents of a deceased child are entitled to recover for loss of consortium. However, these claims for loss of consortium cannot exist independently from the claim that a defendant’s negligence caused the child’s death. Thus, parents cannot recover for the sorrow and anguish endured as a result of the child’s death. Rather, the “pecuniary value” of the child’s life includes a value for the parents’ loss of consortium. Courts consider the benefits the child bestowed on the family, such as companionship, comfort, society, attention, cooperation, affection, care and love. Because it is impossible to generalize on the extent to which family members enjoy each other’s companionship and society, the measurement of a particular parent’s loss of a particular child’s consortium is decided on a case-by-case basis.
- Punitive Damages. If the child’s death was caused by reckless or intentional conduct, parents can seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the responsible person and deter similar behavior.
- Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. Depending on the facts of the case, parents of a deceased child may be able to assert independent claims for “negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
If you need help with a potential wrongful death case, please contact us today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience fighting for the families of those who have suffered wrongful death.