Several years ago, I (Kevin Coluccio) was asked to share my thoughts regarding wrongful death claims involving the elderly. As I mentioned in that article, the consistent claims of the defendants are that their values are quite limited because they were old, in compromised health, not working and they were going to die real soon anyway.
As I have continued to handle claims involving the deaths of the elderly, these themes are still regularly used by the defense. So, what are some additional thoughts that I can share? Here, I would like to focus on the death of an elderly parent.
Seeking a Wrongful Death Claim
First, the fact that these elderly folks are old, in compromised health, not working, and near the end of their life is true. So, acknowledge these facts, and don’t hide from them. Use these facts to increase the damages you seek.
Second, remember that the purpose of our civil court system is to do justice and to hold those accountable for the wrongs and damages that they cause. If the jury does find that a party is to be held accountable for the wrongs and damages that they cause, the jury is charged to give justice, meaning full justice, as opposed to partial justice. There should be no discounts given by the jury.
Third, focus on the relationships. As parents age, the roles of their children change. They essentially reverse. This is often referred to as the circle of life. While our parents cared for us while we were young, as our parents age, we begin to care for them, more and more. Our relationship with them gets stronger. Our bond becomes stronger and most often we spend more time together. As this bond becomes stronger, we view our elderly parents as a key and important part of our lives. While, I admit some may view this role reversal and responsibility as a burden, the surviving children I have recently represented view it as a gift. Their elderly parent’s role in their life is very important. For example, they want their elderly parent to be a big part of any family get-together and they want to take their elderly parent to events. When their elderly parent is taken away by the wrongful act of another, that gift to was taken away.
Wrongful Death Claim: Elements that Matter
Finally, remember the elements of damages allowed in a wrongful death claim. Focus on the companionship, support, advice, love, affection, and care those surviving children shared and experienced with their elderly parents prior to death. I have found that relationships with elderly parents can be the most open, rewarding, and powerful of their lifetime.
I have mentioned this before, but, it is worth sharing again. In 2005 Steve Jobs gave the 2005 Stanford commencement address. In that speech, he shared his diagnosis and struggle with cancer. As he said, “no one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there”. Our time here is limited, no one has a right to take even the shortest moments away, and, if they do, a jury is required to give full justice for each and every moment taken due to wrongful death.
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