One of the most important parts of a wrongful death lawsuit is determining the damage reimbursement that the estate or surviving family members should seek. While no one can put a price tag on the loss of their loved one, some attempt to calculate its financial effects is necessary. To do this, you should understand pecuniary damages and what they include. Here's a guide to help you.
What Are Pecuniary Damages?
Pecuniary refers to financial loss. Damages in a legal setting are financial compensation, but they take a number of forms — such as compensatory or punitive, which is meant to punish the liable party. In a wrongful death case, pecuniary damages are those which are calculated based on somewhat knowable factors like the deceased person's earning power or actual bills related to their passing.
What Is Included In Pecuniary Damages?
Because they attempt to capture the overall loss suffered by other persons, pecuniary damages include a wide range of costs. Some of these financial losses are obvious while others may be harder to quantify.
When an adult passes away, their income and the trajectory of their earning ability may be calculated to determine how much lifetime income was lost. If the person was the family breadwinner, this may be higher.
Actual expenses incurred by the estate or family due to the loss are some of the easier losses to calculate. These may include medical bills, travel or transportation, lost wages, child care, and funeral expenses.
When a person passes away, someone else may need to do tasks that were normally completed by that person. For instance, the loss of a stay-at-home parent may cause the other parent to have to pay for child care while they work. These costs could continue until children are school-age or even longer. They will be calculated as part of pecuniary damages.
There are even more nebulous costs, such as the loss of consortium within the family or a married couple. Calculating many of these requires assistance from experienced estimators.
Where Should You Start?
Clearly, finding the correct amount of pecuniary damages after a loss is difficult. It may involve complex forecasts, professional opinions, and many calculations. The best place to begin is to meet with a personal injury attorney who specializes in wrongful death within your state. With their guidance and resources, you can make the best decisions about your case even during this challenging time.