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Losing a loved one can be painful, but knowing that someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing is the cause can stir anger and a need to seek justice on your loved one’s behalf. The death of a family member can bring its own share of problems for a household, especially if that person is the primary breadwinner. Lost earnings can lead to deep financial struggles that can impact just about every area of a family’s life. Here are five things to know about losing earnings as a result of wrongful death.
- Before You Can Recover Lost Earnings, You Have to Make Your Wrongful Death Case
To recover damages for a loved one’s wrongful death, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. A plaintiff must prove duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages in a wrongful death suit. Loss of earnings can result from wrongful death, and to recover lost earnings, the plaintiff needs to show economic damage was caused by the wrongful death. A Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer at LevinInjuryFirm.com can help with recovering lost earnings.
- Types of Lost Earnings a Plaintiff May Be Entitled To
It is important that the decedent was earning wages prior to their death in order for a wrongful death claim to be assessed for damages related to lost earnings.
Lost earnings can fall into three categories:
- Lost earnings from the time of the accident to the time of death: Can be determined by reviewing the decedent’s W-2 forms or recent paychecks.
- Lost earnings from time of death to expected retirement age: Can be determined by establishing the number of working years left for the decedent until retirement, and calculating the average yearly earnings as the lost earnings.
- Lost earning potential: Might be tricky to establish since wages can fluctuate at different points in one’s career, but the likelihood of raises and promotions may be taken into account.
- How Reasonably Anticipated Future Income is Estimated
There are a number of factors that comes into play when the court is determining how to compensate future earnings in a wrongful death case. The court takes into account:
- Current income: The current amount of wages the deceased was making at the time of the accident.
- Working years left: The deceased’s current pay will be calculated for the amount of remaining working years, factoring in reasonable raises and bonuses.
- Retirement years: The amount the decedent would have made during retirement years is also a factor in making a determination about future income.
- Formula For Calculating Lost Income Benefits
Different courts may apply slightly different methods to calculate lost income benefits in a wrongful death claim. Common considerations include:
- The decedent’s gross earnings at the time of death
- The decedent’s average life expectancy prior to wrongful death
- The decedent’s projected remaining years in the workforce
- Any approximated wage increase the decedent would have earned
- May Be Able to Recover Work Benefits
In some instances, it may be possible to recover work benefits that the family received through the decedent’s job. For example, if the decedent was covering health insurance for the family, or contributing to a pension, IRA, or 401(k), a surviving dependent might be able to recover expected compensation and earned contributions.
Wrongful death is an event that can affect any family. A surviving dependent may feel it’s necessary to pursue a wrongful death claim to recover lost earnings. It’s important to get legal help from seasoned professionals who can make the litigation process a smooth one. Request a free consultation at LevinInjuryFirm.com to get assistance with a wrongful death case.