Wrongful Death of a Child

As tragic as it is to even contemplate, children can and do die as a result of the negligence of others. This can happen in medical malpractice cases, car accidents, drownings, and product liability cases. Whenever a child dies under these circumstances because someone was negligent, the parents of that child have the right to file a claim for the wrongful death of the child against the person or persons whose negligence caused the child’s death. Parents who are in this tragic situation may find it helpful to have a personal injury lawyer West Palm Beach FL families can rely on, help them through this very difficult time.

The elements of a wrongful death of a child case are the same as they are for an adult: the parents must prove that the person owed a duty of due care to the child, the person breached that duty of care, that breach was the proximal cause of the death of the child, and the child suffered damages as a result. The parents must prove all four elements to be able to recover.

The duty of care owed to a child is oftentimes the same duty of care owed to an adult. For example, a doctor delivering a baby owes a duty of care to the mother and the child. A driver of an automobile owes a duty of care to all of the others on the road, both drivers and passengers. A manufacturer of a product owes a duty not only to those who purchase the product but those who use it as well. A homeowner owes a duty of care to anyone he invites into his home.

Where child wrongful death actions differ from those of adults in in the damages element. This is because the usual method of quantifying the value of an adult life is based on the earnings of the individual, their education and earning potential, and pre-existing conditions. In other words, it is not difficult to put a “price” on this life because the person has lived enough of it already to fill in some of the blanks.

What makes the death of a child so tragic is the same thing that makes quantifying the value of their life so difficult: they had not yet really had a chance to live and to make their own way in the world. Depending upon the age and education of the child, some estimations of what the child might have achieved later in life can be made. For young children, however, this is virtually useless. In these cases, the actual value of the child’s life may be relatively low.

However, the value of the life of the child to their parents will be covered through special damages, loss of consortium damages, and the parents’ own mental suffering and grief at the death of the child. Parents can recover their costs incurred after the child was injured including medical bills and funeral costs. They can recover damages for the loss of companionship and love of the child – aka loss of consortium. Finally, they can recover for their own grief and suffering at the death of their child, including costs for grief counseling, professional services for siblings to help them process the death, and psychological treatment.


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