First, if the deceased survived for a period of time after the accident, a survival action may collect compensation for the accident victim’s lost wages between the time of the accident and death. This will go to the deceased’s estate to be distributed to beneficiaries. A wrongful death claim benefits the victim’s survivors and accounts for their damages, including the loss of income related to the death. The Ohio statutes allow recovery for “loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the decedent.”
Loss of income is based on the deceased’s wages. A big part of calculating loss of income is the decedent’s age. An older individual may have worked fewer additional years than a younger individual. Thus, the earning capacity and loss of income may be greater for the younger individual simply because he or she would have collected income for a greater number of years.
Expected promotions and pay increases might factor into the case as well. This might be the case especially if the deceased was young and could reasonably be expected to see an increase in wages from the time of death until expected retirement. Talk to your attorney about whether education and training might be a factor. Also keep in mind that calculating loss of income is based on more than simply wages. It also might include loss of benefits, 401(k) contributions, pensions, and more. Speculating about what a person would have earned is difficult. Talk to your attorney about the specifics of your case.
There can be considerable disagreement between the plaintiffs and defendant in a wrongful death case regarding the earning capacity of the deceased. So your attorney will help you collect evidence to support your case. Evidence might include documents indicating previous wages earned, educational attainment, and more. A forensic economist might testify in some cases. This is an expert who can account for not only the current damages the family suffers as a result of the death, but future ones as well.
Ryan, LLP helps residents of Cleveland explore their legal options following a loved one’s death. We help calculate loss of income and other damages and file wrongful death claims for beneficiaries and the deceased’s representative. Call today at 877-864-9495 or use our contact form to set up a consultation.About the author of this article: Thomas Ryan