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Why wrongful death lawsuits can produce different financial awards

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2022 | Personal Injury |

Not all Maryland wrongful death lawsuits are equal when damages are assessed. There are specific rules with respect to what damages may be claimed, and the age or family structure of a victim has a direct impact on those elements. A wrongful death victim in the prime of their life will typically yield a much higher financial award if they had high earning capacity and leave behind a family they were supporting. However, when children or the elderly die due to the negligence of another party, damages may be limited.

Claim elements for minors

Wrongful death claims involving children are among those that yield smaller damage awards even if a case goes to trial. Children are not evaluated on lost income potential because standing is typically assigned to their parents and they is no true financial support loss. There is usually a primary claim for loss of consortium along with medical bills, and there are often claims for funeral expenses and other associated costs included in damage demands.

Claim elements for elderly

Another wrongful death issue where damages can be limited is for the elderly and siblings. Those who have children at home could generate a significant award when the dependents are young or if they have adult dependents who are incapacitated. There could be significant consideration for lost financial support when the decedent has not yet reached retirement age and is still employed. Placing a standard value on a life in any wrongful death action is commonly considered one of the weaknesses of the system, and it is never an easy process.

Punitive damages may also be sought in a few situations when evidence indicates that the defendant intended to cause harm to the decedent, but this is rare.