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How do families calculate wage losses for wrongful death claims?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2023 | Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one unexpectedly causes emotional trauma and family chaos. Those who have just lost a loved one in Indiana often don’t know what to do next. They may have past-due bills now that their loved one can no longer provide a paycheck, and they may have numerous other challenges that the household will have to manage, such as redistributing the work that they did around the home.

Families may experience a significant reduction in their standard of living when someone dies unexpectedly. Thankfully, Indiana law offers specific opportunities for legal recourse to those struggling because of someone’s untimely death. If a business or individual caused the tragedy through either illegal actions or obvious negligence, for example, it may be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation. One of the biggest contributors to the value of such lawsuits may be the wages that someone can no longer earn after their death. How do families calculate lost wages under these circumstances?

They must consider the big picture

The wages that someone earned at the time that they died aren’t necessarily indicative of their future income. Most people will command higher wages as they develop more professional experience. Someone in their 40s would likely earn more a decade later in their career and even more in the final years before their retirement. Families therefore have to consider that future increase in earning potential when calculating a lifetime of lost income.

They also need to consider financial support beyond just a paycheck that employers provide. Health insurance, pension benefits and even paid time off are all examples of employment benefits that can drastically increase the overall value of someone’s compensation package. Benefits on their own can be worth roughly a third of someone’s salary in many cases.

It can be very challenging for families to accurately estimate the future earning potential of someone who died, especially while they are in the throes of grief. They might make mistakes that result in them seeking inappropriately low amounts from the party responsible for their loss instead of getting the maximum amount of compensation possible.

Recognizing why disappointing settlements can occur in wrongful death cases may help grieving families in Indiana demand appropriate compensation given the impact that a death has had and the liability that a responsible party should assume accordingly.