When a family’s income is reduced as a result of a wrongful death, a detailed series of calculations must be performed to estimate the value of the support lost to surviving family members. The steps are:
- Estimate total family income in the absence of the wrongful death (including the value of employee benefits).
- Estimate family income remaining as a result of the death.
- Estimate the income tax payable to determine the loss of after-tax income.
- Estimate the portion of net family income which would be required by each survivor to maintain the same standard of living as before the death.
- Discount to a present value equivalent the loss of net family income of each survivor, allowing for the possibility of death in any given year for each family member.
- If appropriate, estimate the probability of marriage breakup (in the absence of the accident) and/or remarriage after the accident.
- Gross up any lump sum award to allow for income tax that will be payable on the interest earned by the award.
The economic valuation described above would be in addition to loss under such headings as “loss of love and guidance” and “loss of housekeeping services”.