Virginia residents who lose a loved one to wrongful death have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it’s a little different when the victim is a child or elderly person.
Wrongful death cases involving a child
It’s easy to determine damages in a wrongful death case involving an adult victim. When a child under 18 is the one who died, it makes the case more complex. The damages that the parents could recover are strictly financial, which means it’s usually a small amount. Damages in a wrongful death case stemming from a child’s death include the following:
• The child’s age, health, life expectancy and lifestyle
• The child’s earning potential
• The relationship of the child to those claiming the loss
• The age, health and circumstances of those claiming the loss
Aspects such as a child’s earning potential are difficult to determine. For example, if the child was so young that they didn’t even hold a part-time summer job, it could be impossible to put a financial cost on their earning potential.
Wrongful death cases involving an elderly person
When a wrongful death case involves an elderly victim, the surviving spouse or family member may recover a small amount in compensation if successful. This is because elderly people typically live on a fixed income. However, if the surviving spouse was relying on the pension of the victim at the time of their death, the damages might be easier to determine.
The victim’s age is a factor considered when damages are determined by the court. It may also be possible to claim pain and suffering experienced by the victim before their death.
If a family member was financially supported by the elderly person before their death, that could factor in when the court decides on a monetary amount for damages as well.
These types of wrongful death cases are complex, but survivors might still recover damages based on the facts.