How do I calculate pecuniary damages in a wrongful death suit?

In a successfully navigated wrongful death suit plaintiffs may be able to receive an award of "pecuniary damages." These damages relate to the financial injuries suffered by the close family members and/or dependants who survived the deceased person.

Pecuniary injuries in a wrongful death case will relate to financial calculations that take into account loss of support, lost future inheritance, lost family and household services, costs related to medical care and costs related to end of life expenses. Generally speaking, Tennessee courts will seek to hold financially accountable the parties that caused the death of the individual. Usually, the at fault parties are held liable due to some form of negligence, recklessness or unlawful behavior.

When adding up pecuniary losses, courts will take into account the health condition, age and overall character and potential future earning capacity of the defendant. If the case involves the death of an adult wage earner who was supporting dependants, including children, the pecuniary recovery will likely include financial recovery relating to lost income and loss of parental guidance. In addition to the above pecuniary damages, wrongful death plaintiffs may also seek to recover interest incurred relating to the pecuniary damage amount accruing from the date of their loved one's death.

Ultimately, every wrongful death claim is different as it involves a different person with a different level of financial contribution to his or her family. Although it's unfair and unrealistic to try and assign a dollar amount of compensatory damages to an individual's death, wrongful death recoveries like this are the only way our court system has of making surviving family members in some way -- at the very least financially -- whole again.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed Oct. 20, 2017

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