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Calculating Lost Earnings for a Wrongful Death Claim in New York

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Man using calculatorIn New York, wrongful death claims entitle the survivors of the deceased to recover damages for their loved one's lost wages and future earnings. Unfortunately, calculating lost earnings for a wrongful death claim can be very difficult and most insurance companies are not simply going to offer up the compensation you deserve.

When you work with Goldstein & Bashner, we work with experts to calculate the proper amount for lost earnings for your wrongful death claim in New York. We also negotiate with the insurer to ensure you recover the compensation you and your family need to support yourselves.

What types of lost earnings is my family entitled to?

Wrongful death claims only assess damages from lost earnings when the decedent was earning wages before their death. Lost earnings in a wrongful death case fall into three categories:

  • Lost wages from time of accident to time of death
  • Lost wages from time of death to expected retirement age
  • Lost earning potential


The first category is easy to calculate, as it only requires review of the decedent's W-2 forms or recent paychecks. One exception is when the decedent had irregular income, whether because he worked for tips or commission, or was self-employed. In these cases, W-2s will be necessary to average a periodic pay amount. We can also work with an economist to determine the average pay.

Lawyers determine the second category by finding the number of working years left for the decedent until retirement. Your lawyer then computes his/her average yearly earnings as the lost earnings. However, the third category can change this estimate.

When a young worker dies, their income at the time might be only a fraction of what they were expected to make later in life. For example, a 26-year-old making $70,000 a year will have much higher lost earnings than a 55-year-old making $35,000 a year.

To determine how much the victim would have made until retirement, we can bring in a vocational expert or financial professional, such as an economist, to determine the likelihood of raises, promotions, and cost of living adjustments in wages.

What if my loved one was receiving benefits from work? Can I recover those?

In many cases, yes. If your loved one was paying health insurance for your family, you might be able to recover compensation for health insurance.

If your loved one was contributing to a pension, IRA, or 401(k) account, you might also be able to recover the expected contributions to that account.

Note: Wrongful death claims consider the earned wages of the deceased, which means you cannot recover lost earnings if the victim is a child. However, you might be able to recover lost earning potential. Discuss your case with our team.

Make Sure Your Family Gets the Financial Support to Which It is Entitled

Losing a loved one is difficult, and trying to figure out how to face life without his/her financial support should not be on your shoulders.

Contact Goldstein & Bashner at 516-874-4362 to discuss your legal options. We offer free consultations to discuss your right to file a wrongful death claim and seek the full range of damages to which you are entitled. 

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