If you lose a family member to a wrongful death, you may be wondering what your options are. Often the sudden loss of a family member causes tremendous emotional distress and financial loss.
But when the negligent actions of a person or company result in the death of a loved one, you have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages.
Here, we discuss the details that affect the value of your claim and what to expect from wrongful death settlements.
Are Online Wrongful Death Settlement Calculators Accurate?
Generally, no. Every wrongful death claim has unique circumstances, so it’s impossible to find an accurate wrongful death lawsuit settlement average. While most personal injury case settlements range from $3,000 to $75,000, the amount of a wrongful death case sometimes reaches six figures or more.
There are several factors which affect the potential value of wrongful death settlements, including:
- The location of the accident,
- Workers’ compensation available to the deceased,
- Lost wages, and
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list of each factor that affects your settlement. The type of wrongful death also affects how much plaintiffs may get from wrongful death settlements. For example, if a family member dies due to a work accident, you might only be able to claim workers’ compensation.
What Are the Most Common Accidents That Cause a Wrongful Death?
Like most personal injury cases, wrongful death claims arise when someone dies due to the negligence or recklessness of another person. Wrongful deaths occur from all types of incidents, including:
- Auto accidents,
- Trucking accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Pedestrian accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Construction accidents, and
- Slips and falls.
For example, if a driver kills someone because they disobeyed a traffic law, they can be held accountable in a wrongful death claim.
How Long Should I Expect My Wrongful Death Claim to Take to Resolve?
Due to the incredible sensitivity and difficulty of wrongful death cases, they can take years to resolve. Complicated cases with several negotiations usually take longer to settle.
Unfortunately, a shorter claim usually correlates with a lower settlement, especially if the plaintiff doesn’t work with a wrongful death lawyer. Insurance companies try to offer as little as possible for your claim hoping you take it out of desperation. Working with a lawyer to handle negotiations for you increases your chances of receiving a higher settlement.
What Economic Damages Can I Claim in a Wrongful Death Case?
The loss of a loved one to a wrongful death is very personal, something that no amount of money can repay. However, the law expects wrongful death claims to start with the economic losses a family endures. Your lawyer determines economic losses in a wrongful death settlement claim by determining:
- The victim’s earnings at that job,
- The victim’s overall health when they died,
- How the victim planned to retire, and
- How much the victim contributed to the family in expenses and labor.
States have different laws about the types of damages loved ones can recover. But for economic losses, your lawyer typically includes any expenses the family incurred due to the wrongful death, including hospital fees, medical bills, funeral expenses, burial, and estate planning costs. They also include any financial support the family would have received from their loved one if they hadn’t died.
Even if your loved one didn’t have a job, they likely still made other contributions. For example, a stay-at-home parent contributes to the family by cleaning the house, managing household finances, buying groceries, taking care of your children, etc. If you now have to pay for services to maintain your household like childcare or maintenance, you may be able to recover compensation for these expenses.
What Non-Economic Damages Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Case?
Typically, a wrongful death case includes non-economic damages that have a less tangible value. However, they sometimes carry as much value as economic damages, if not more. Non-economic losses include:
- The mental pain and suffering of the survivors;
- Loss of care, guidance, advice, protection, and nurturing from the deceased;
- Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse; and
- Loss of companionship and love from the deceased.
In rare circumstances, the plaintiff may seek punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic losses. This happens in cases where the deceased person died due to the malicious, willful, or fraudulent conduct of another.
What Are the Chances That My Wrongful Death Case Goes to Trial Instead of Settlement?
Most wrongful death settlements don’t go to trial. If you have a skillful wrongful death attorney representing your case, they might be able to get a good settlement offer for your claim before going to trial.
Generally, the longer a wrongful death claim lasts, the more likely it is to go to trial. If the defendant’s insurance company refuses to budge on their settlement offer or refuses to pay out a settlement, the case usually goes to court.
However, most companies try to avoid going to trial since it typically costs more money to fight the case than to offer a higher settlement. If you want to know the likelihood of your wrongful death case going to trial, make sure to ask your lawyer.
How Do I Know if My Wrongful Death Lawyer is Doing a Good Job With My Case?
Since losing a loved one to a wrongful death is very personal, you should consider wrongful death lawyers who look out for the best interests of surviving family members and understand the seriousness of your loss. The best wrongful death lawyers:
- Request incident reports on your behalf;
- Collect visual evidence from the scene of the incident;
- Obtain medical records and bills for funeral expenses regarding the deceased;
- Communicate with the defendant or insurance company on your behalf;
- Respond quickly to your questions; and
- Help gather expert witnesses.
Always avoid lawyers who communicate with you through a case manager or ignore you. If you believe your lawyer isn’t doing a good job with your case, we encourage you to get a second opinion from another wrongful death lawyer.
Can’t Wait for Your Settlement? Apply for a Lawsuit Loan Through Nova Legal Funding Today
The wrongful death of a loved one always leaves a significant emotional hole in the lives of surviving family members. If that family member provided financial stability for you and your family, the effects of their loss extend even further.
At Nova Legal Funding, we understand how difficult wrongful death cases are. We offer risk-free pre-settlement lawsuit loans for plaintiffs who need help paying bills, funeral expenses, and more.
We guarantee the lowest rates in the industry and send cash to approved applicants within 24 hours. If you have any questions about wrongful death settlements or would like to apply for funding, give one of our specialists a call at 866-985-0472.