Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits where those who depended on an individual who recently died hold someone else accountable for the consequences of their death. Wrongful death claims often focus on direct financial losses, like the lost wages someone would have contributed to the household if they hadn’t died.
However, many families have individual members who contribute much to the household with no direct financial value. A parent who works part-time so that the kids don’t need to go to daycare after school every day or a stay-at-home spouse who manages the whole household so that their partner can focus on their 80-hour-a-week medical career performs very valuable work for the family even if no money changes hands.
Surviving family members who lose a stay-at-home spouse or parents may need to claim the value of that unpaid labor in their wrongful death lawsuits.
What is unpaid labor actually worth?
Although people are dismissive about the economic value of household services, they are actually worth quite a bit of money. Childcare is a perfect example. It is common for people to treat it as an obligation, not a form of work.
However, when you have to pay for childcare, it could cost your family thousands of dollars a month. Those who pay professionals to organize their schedules, plan their menus, shop for groceries and clean their homes typically have to pay quite a bit for those services as well.
To determine what your loved one’s work was worth, you can create a list of services they provided and then determine what it would cost to bring in professionals to provide that same support. Many families discover that the unpaid work a loved one provided for the family was worth well over $100,000 annually.
Maximizing your claim is better for your family
No amount of money can fully compensate the family that has lost a key number to a tragic and preventable situation, like a drunk driving crash.
Still, financial compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit can help your family reduce the lasting impact the tragedy will have. Additionally, the more compensation the courts award you, the more of a punishment your claim is for the business or individual that caused your loved one’s death.
Taking the time to determine exactly how much compensation you can request can you a more just outcome in a wrongful death lawsuit.