My elderly father was killed in a traffic accident that was clearly the other driver’s fault. How much can I expect to receive if I win my wrongful death claim?


It’s impossible to give a precise number, or even a ballpark estimate since wrongful-death damages are unique to the circumstances of any given case. That said, it’s unlikely that you’ll be awarded a substantial amount of money because of the simple fact that your father was elderly, presumably retired, and didn’t have many (if any) productive years remaining in the workforce.

When courts and insurance companies calculate wrongful death damages, they usually look at the economic harm suffered by surviving family members. If your father had been in the prime of life, and supporting you, your mother and your siblings on a high-six-figure salary, the damages in a wrongful death claim would be calculated according to his projected loss of earnings because of his early death, and the financial distress suffered by your family. Since your father was well on in years, the economic losses you suffered because of his death may be minimal.

What about punitive damages? Well, despite what you see on TV, these are very rare and are usually handed down to make an example of a particularly negligent or reckless individual (or corporation). If your father died in an ordinary traffic accident, the other driver’s behavior will probably not rise to the standard of extreme recklessness required for punitive damages (if he simply failed to signal when changing lanes, for example, punitive damages will be off the table—but if he drank two bottles of whiskey and sped down the highway at 100 mph with two kids in the back seat, you might have a better case).

Are you contemplating pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit? Contact the Rockford wrongful death attorneys at The Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm (888-716-7336) for a free consultation today!