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Wrongful death after the loss of a child: What you should know

The death of a child is a scenario that many parents in California cannot bear to even imagine. For those who are forced to go through it because of someone else's negligence, it can be devastating. Simply knowing that a child's death could have been prevented is enough for some parents to consider taking legal action against those responsible.

The death of a child, however, is handled differently under the law than the death of an adult. While there is no amount of money that could ever make up for the untimely death of a child, the court places great emphasis on financial loss in wrongful death cases. Unfortunately, this can limit the amount that parents may receive in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

It is fairly easy to determine financial loss when a working adult dies because you know what type of salary he or she was earning. For children, determining financial loss is much more difficult. When determining the financial loss associated with the death of a child, the jury will usually consider the child's earning potential, life expectancy, age, health and sex. The circumstances of those who are seeking compensation may also be considered.

Even when considering these factors, it is not easy for a jury to determine the financial losses incurred by those filing the wrongful death lawsuit after the death of a child. Because there are laws against speculation by juries, determining a fair amount is often very challenging and can sometimes lead to a smaller recovery.

Unfortunately, parents are limited to seeking compensation for financial losses only after the death of a child. Damages are not available for loss of companionship or other loss related to the relationship.

If you are faced with the death of a child and are considering a wrongful death lawsuit, speaking to an experienced lawyer is the best way to better understand the potential of your unique situation. No two cases are the same, so it is important to understand how the details of your case could be affected by California law.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly," Accessed on April 20, 2015

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