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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Wrongful Death Involving Toddlers

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

A wrongful death action occurs when someone dies and another person or entity is legally at fault for their death. Wrongful death can happen due to a variety of different circumstances, including medical malpractice, defective product manufacturing, or some other negligent action that resulted in a death.


A wrongful death is always a tragedy as it is the avoidable loss of life that would have been prevented had no negligence occurred. Particularly heartbreaking wrongful death claims with especially complex damages calculations are those involving toddlers or other young children.

Toddlers and other young children rely on their adult caretakers and community members to keep them out of harm’s way. The youngest members of our society don’t yet have the physical or cognitive ability to take care of themselves, making them especially susceptible to risks of injury or death. A grieving Texas family is considering a wrongful death action after their four year old was crushed to death by a headstone in disrepair this past May.

Wrongful Death at Schools and Daycare

Schools and daycare facilities may also be liable for wrongful death when tragic accidents occur on their premises. In 2012, a California court found a Montessori school liable for wrongful death after a 3 year old boy choked to death on a pushpin while in attendance. The court found that “the school could have prevented the toddler’s death,” had they provided appropriate supervision, supply storage, and safety accommodations for students. After an 18-month old suffocated in a car seat at an unlicensed day care facility, its proprietor faced both civil and criminal liability for his death. Wrongful death claims involving toddlers can also commonly occur due to defective products like malfunctioning car seats, toys, or playground equipment, or after some type of medical malpractice.

When a toddler dies due to someone’s negligence, his or her parents or guardians may pursue a wrongful death claim in order to recover damages. Potential damages in a wrongful death action depend on the circumstances and the decedent. Family members of a young child who died wrongfully may collect a number of non-economic damages for things like mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. Because small children don’t generally have an income, calculating economic losses in a wrongful death action for a toddler presents a unique challenge.

Many jurisdictions specify how damages may be calculated in situations like this, implementing caps or other devices. Of course, no one can ever really be compensated for the loss of a loved one, especially a child.

If you’ve lost a child due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Chicago wrongful death attorney to discuss your case. You do not have to go through this tragedy alone, our caring staff is here help you seek the compensation you deserve.