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Wrongful death damages and the age of a victim

October 15, 2018

It is often the case that when a wage-earning individual loses their life due to the negligent actions of another, their loved ones may be able to pursue damages based on the lost earnings of the deceased party. The spouse, children and other dependents who counted on the victim’s wages may suffer financially due to the victim’s death. In Kentucky and other jurisdictions these types of losses may be appropriate in the wake of a wrongful death incident.

However, when a non-wage earning victim is killed in such an event, the damages available to their relations may be different. For example, when a retiree is killed in a motor vehicle crash, they may have no earnings on which to base a claim for lost wages. The same may hold true when a child becomes the victim of a wrongful death accident as they generally will not have any work history or income on which to base such a claim.

In situations where a victim is retired or a child, statistical information may be used to determine what, if any, income they may have earned in their lifetime. However, these determinations are highly speculative and may be difficult to prove when explored at trial.

The age of a victim and their prospective earning capacity can change the type and amount of damages that individuals can recover when their loved one is lost in a negligence-based incident. That is not to say that wage-related damages are impossible to recover for the elderly and juvenile populations. Preparing pleadings for these types of cases can be guided by professionals who represent victims after wrongful death accidents.