After the death of a loved one, family members are left dealing with an aftermath that includes the absence of services their loved one provided to them or their minor children. These services are not professional, but instead are part of the family structure. The services would include income, the loved one’s help in raising children, and emotional support.
Family members are often the biggest victims because they shoulder the financial and economic losses of their loved one’s death. When family members turn to an attorney to consider their options for a wrongful death lawsuit, one term they may hear is the “lost services” claim. This refers to damages that cover the financial and intangible expenses left to surviving family members after their loved one dies.
Often, to calculate such damages, attorneys must hire an accounting expert. These experts will evaluate the services that used to be provided by the lost loved one and the financial losses their absence causes today as well as into the future.
Economic Losses and How They Impact the Family
Economic losses are those that generate financial difficulty for family members after a loved one’s death. The purpose of calculating these losses is to demonstrate to the jury how the loss of their loved one has created an unnecessary financial hardship. These are tangible losses that directly impact the surviving spouse and children.
For example, if the deceased were the primary income earner, the family members would need compensation to cover that loss and return themselves to a whole position financially. Some family members may be burdened with taking on costs that they initially were not prepared to pay for. It’s possible that the wages of the household could drop to a level that leaves family members in danger of losing their home. Accounting experts will determine the amounts that the deceased would have contributed and how much the at-fault party should pay to recoup these losses.
Why Are Accounting Experts Used for a Loss of Services Claim?
Accounting experts are called in to calculate these complex losses. They will use valuations of economic losses and determine how much damages the surviving family should receive based on what the deceased would have provided.
Exploring the Lost Services of Family Members
In a wrongful death claim, surviving family members file a lawsuit if they believe that their loved one’s death was caused by the negligent or intentional acts of another person. They can show this as an accident or a malicious act and prove to the court that the death was preventable. Once the courts agree that the defendant caused the deceased’s death, the next step would be to calculate damages. One damage area is that of lost services.
Lost services involve the services that used to be provided by the deceased for their family or dependents. These services are now no longer available to family members because of the death.
An expert will be necessary to calculate these services and their respective monetary value as well as calculate future damages.
Just some of the lost services that are factored into the compensation include:
- Asset and estate management
- Earning an income for the household
- Providing health insurance coverage for the household
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts and earnings
- Pension earnings that would have been made
To understand just how many services were lost and their compensation value, the accounting expert would need to consider how much the missing loved one would have provided to family members had the deceased not died. Then, the family could seek damages for those amounts through a wrongful death claim.
The Parameters of a Successful Loss of Services Claim
To claim lost services, loved ones must show that their loved one’s death caused a significant loss in fundamental services. For example, lost income is a lost service. Let’s say a mother was staying home with her children and the household relied solely on the father’s income. Unfortunately, the father died from an accident. This would be a lost service. Now the mother must find a job, start supporting her children, pay for daycare, and be without the assistance of a spouse to help raise her children. Therefore, the courts would consider the cost of this lifestyle change and the amount of income the decedent would have provided had they not passed away.
Factors Evaluated by the Accounting Expert
When the accounting expert is called in to review a lost services claim, they will review several key factors to help determine how much the case is worth, including:
- Current Finances – The accounting expert will look at the current financial situation of the deceased’s estate, including assets, the value of property, and the financial support he or she provided before their death.
- The Increased Value – Naturally, what a person makes one year would be dramatically different than 10 years later. Therefore, an accountant must consider inflation, raises, bonuses, and career advancement that the victim would have provided.
- Needs of the Family – The needs of the family play a heavy role in determining financial support and the loss of services. For example, some family members may require healthcare services or need additional financial support. Obviously, minor children would financially rely on a parent longer than adult children.
Meet with a Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Deciding what damages your loved one’s death would yield is not something you should have to worry about. In your time of grief, turn to the attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. We are here to help you get the compensation you need for your loved one’s medical bills, lost wages, lost services, funeral and burial expenses, and more.
When you need to consider your options, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our attorneys today at 206-922-4197. You can also request more information about our firm or your options online.