Wrongful Death Evaluations
This analysis includes the present value assessment, where appropriate, of the loss of earnings (from date of injury to date of death); the loss of monetary or financial support to the survivors; the loss of the decedent’s services to survivors; and if identified statutorily, the loss of inheritance or the loss of net accumulations to the estate of the decedent.
A wrongful death evaluation typically encompasses an assessment of the consequences of the income of a decedent ceasing as of the time of death. After establishing a probable annual earnings level, deductions are generally made for taxes and the personal consumption of the decedent (where called for in the pertinent statutory guidelines) and all projected future income-based losses (typically loss of support and if appropriate, loss of inheritance) are reduced to a present value equivalent by applying an interest or discount rate.
Loss of services claims typically involve establishing a fair market value of the services loss by surviving family members. Usually, an effort is made to determine the number of hours spent by the decedent providing services that are a direct benefit to the survivors. Once this has been established, a market-based hourly replacement cost is established. With an annual replacement cost established, a forecast is undertaken of the future value of these services, adjusting for expected inflation as concerns these services. Finally, all future values are discounted to a present value equivalent.
Mareike Schulz & Susan A. Hisey