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How courts calculate the loss of future earnings in wrongful death cases

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2023 | Wrongful Death

Unlike economic damages, such as medical costs and funeral expenses, noneconomic losses are more challenging to calculate in wrongful death cases. There are no receipts nor invoices for the loss of love and companionship, and there is no way to know the actual and exact future income loss of the deceased.

Nevertheless, courts apply a different computation for reasonable noneconomic damages so that victims’ families would be compensated for their loved ones’ wrongful deaths, at least covering the financial aspect of their losses.

Why courts award loss of future income damages

An individual’s current income and earning capacity has a significant impact on a family’s financial stability, especially if that individual is the family’s primary provider. Accordingly, the provider’s death would adversely impact the family’s source of income to cover their needs and maintain their lifestyle.

Looking into the deceased’s life

While there is no fixed set of factors to determine lost future income in wrongful death cases, there are certain considerations courts commonly look into when computing for the victim’s loss of future earnings. This includes the deceased’s:

  • Prior income level
  • Career advancement opportunities
  • Expected remaining years to work

The courts will use these factors to calculate the income and benefits the deceased might have reasonably expected to earn if it weren’t for their wrongful death. The computation for the value of noneconomic damages is generally subjective, depending on the judge’s fair evaluation and the unique circumstances of the case. However, the mentioned factors can tilt the scale so the result can also be objectively reasonable.

In other cases, courts use worklife and life expectancy tables to estimate lost future income.

Navigating wrongful death claims

No amount of compensation can cover the pain of losing a loved one. Nevertheless, wrongful death damages can somehow ease the deceased’s family financial burden due to their provider’s death. Having a caring and knowledgeable representation might be able to help victims’ families explore their legal options and establish claims.