During the winter holiday season, residents in Montana and elsewhere are likely traveling to see friends and family or having family come visit them. While this is the time of year for celebration and togetherness, it is also the time of year to be cautious of winter weather, road conditions and drunk drivers. A negligent driver could quickly cause a joyful time to become a shocking and devastating event.

Losing a loved one in a fatal car accident is never easy to process; however, those left behind must face the losses and damages generated by this tragic incident. One does not only deal with the grief caused by the loss of a loved one but also the monetary damages generated by the fatal car crash that suddenly took a loved one’s life.

While losing a loved one of any age is devastating, when recovering compensation in a wrongful death claim, courts will consider the age of the deceased victim. When a child is killed in a car accident, this is not as easy to assess as when a wage-earning adult is killed. Courts do not only consider actual financial losses but also base damages on the age, sex, life expectancy, work expectancy, state of health, habits of the child, the child’s earning potential, the relationship of the child to those claiming damages and the health, age and circumstance of those claiming damages.

On the other hand, when elderly loved ones are killed in a car crash, damages are assessed a bit differently. Much like a child might not produce a large award of damages due to their young age and speculations of future earning potential, the death of an elderly loved one also has limited recovery potential. Because it is likely that the deceased elderly loved one has passed retirement age and no longer has children to support, rewards are likely limited in these cases.

No matter the age of the loved one wrongfully killed in an automobile collision, it is important that surviving loved ones understand that they have options available to them. It is important to understand what these options are and what steps need to be taken to protect their rights and recover necessary compensation and damages.

Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful Death Cases: Children and the Elderly,” accessed Nov. 27, 2016