A four-year-old was recently killed in a two-vehicle crash in St. Peters, Missouri, as reported by KMOV4 News. A family of five, including two parents and three children, were driving in a Jeep eastbound when a van crossed over the highway, from allegedly hitting a patch of ice, and struck the family’s vehicle. The four-year-old was killed, while the two other children and the parents survived, along with the driver of the van. 3.9 percent of victims of fatal traffic collisions are children in Missouri, which is higher than the national average, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Child Wrongful Death Cases Receive Less Than Adult Cases
Putting an accurate price tag on a human life is not only disrespectful to the deceased and to their family, but a futile endeavor as well, because no amount of money will ease the pain of those left behind. No personal injury settlement or lawsuit award will balance out the careless or reckless actions of the negligent party. However, the negligent party must be held financially accountable for their actions, and monetary compensation is crucial for grieving families who have medical bills to pay, weeks of wages that go unearned, and funeral expenses to deal with. Unfortunately for parents who have lost children, settlement and judgment awards are far less for young lives than for adults.
How is a Car Crash Wrongful Death Case Calculated?
There are many aspects of determining the “value” of a wrongful death case. These include the following:
- Degree of Fault: Missouri’s comparative negligence system reduces the compensation for victims who are found to be partially at fault for causing the incident. If the child’s parent was driving and found to be partially at fault, or the child was found to be partially at fault as a pedestrian or cyclist, their percentage of liability will be deduced from the total compensation;
- Medical Costs: The victim’s medical costs are factored into a settlement or judgment;
- Pain and Suffering: The amount that the child victim suffered before death is included;
- Loss of Consortium: This is the loss of companionship and love that the parents suffer from the death of their child;
- Mental Anguish: This is the mental or emotional damage caused to the parents;
- Funeral Expenses; and
- Earning Potential
Where the death of a child differentiates from the death of an adult is earning potential. It is extremely difficult to put an accurate number on the earning potential of a child, especially a very young child. As such, this aspect of earning potential can drastically reduce the compensation that the parents receive from their child’s death. For example, it is easy to calculate the lost earnings of a 40-year-old financial planner who earned $190,000 per year. It is not so easy to come up with a number for lost earnings of a 10-year old.
You Need an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer
Because judges and juries typically award less, and insurance adjusters reduce the value of child death claims, you need an attorney who will fight for you in and out of the courtroom. Call the Kansas City wrongful death lawyers of the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm today to set up a free consultation.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.