It is terribly painful to lose a close family member when their tragic death was preventable. A wrongful death claim can be filed if your loved one died as the result of negligence, an accident, dangerous conditions, or criminal behavior.
What Is a Wrongful Death Settlement?
For a wrongful death lawsuit payout, you must prove that the deceased was killed by the negligence or willful intent, and family members are suffering financially as a result of the death.
Types of Wrongful Death Settlements
Here are some scenarios for wrongful death settlements:
- Vehicle accidents such as car, pedestrian, or semi-truck accidents.
- Workplace accidents or illness from dangerous conditions or exposure to hazardous substances, for example, mesothelioma from asbestos.
- Medical malpractice caused by a doctor, or in a hospital or nursing homes, such as surgical error, or death of an infant in childbirth.
- Police incidents involving non-procedural behavior.
- Defective or dangerous products, such as accidental poisoning.
Average Wrongful Death Settlements
There is no wrongful death settlement calculator to predict exactly what payout to expect. Every wrongful death has unique circumstances that are taken into account.
Here are some examples:
- The average payout for medical negligence resulting in death starts at around $500,000 and extends to over $1,000,000.
- The average wrongful death settlements for mesothelioma are $1,000,000 to $1,4000,000
- The largest vehicle accident wrongful death settlements achieved by Kevin Coluccio have exceeded $11,000,000.
What Are the Wrongful Death Settlement Options?
When instituting a wrongful death claim, there are three legal paths to resolve a fair settlement and any disputes.
Mediation is a voluntary dispute resolution that avoids litigation. It generally takes place at a law firm. Each party signs a confidentiality agreement and makes an opening statement.
The parties are then separated and a neutral, unbiased mediator moves between them to negotiate offers from the defendant to the plaintiff. Strict confidentiality is maintained, in case mediation fails and the claim goes to court.
Mediation can help resolve a case swiftly and it also allows both sides to prepare for any issues that may arise if the case is litigated.
The decisions regarding the claim are made by an arbitrator or an arbitration panel. Both parties attend a hearing where they can call witnesses and provide documents to support their case. There is no requirement to maintain the confidentiality of the strategy of either side.
The arbitrator(s) decide if the defendant is responsible for the wrongful death and the financial reparations for the family of the deceased.
If mediation or arbitration can’t settle a dispute, then the wrongful death claim goes to court.
The length, cost, and complexity of litigation vary from case to case, but sometimes it’s the only option to achieve a fair outcome. If the wrongful death was intentional, then litigation is the only path to resolution.
You need a trusted lawyer who will act on your behalf subject to your instructions, advise you on how to proceed, and inform you how well the case is progressing through all its stages. This relationship of trust is essential to the process.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Settlement Claim?
A deceased person’s first-degree family relatives can bring a damages claim. Beneficiaries could be a surviving spouse, child, parent, or sibling. You are entitled to claim for both economic losses, such as expenses and loss of income, and the non-economic losses of love and companionship. Any payout is split between the surviving spouse and/or first-degree relatives. Consult a wrongful death lawyer to assist you through the process.
What Are the Wrongful Death Settlement Payout Options?
Settlement options depend on how you choose to be paid out. This could be:
- A Lump Sum: The plaintiffs receive a single payment for their damages which allows the surviving family members more flexibility.
- A Structured Settlement: The claim is paid out in increments over time. However, this method is inflexible and hard to modify when there are large bills to settle.
Are Wrongful Death Settlement Payouts Taxable?
Payouts from wrongful death settlements and verdicts are non-taxable. However, any punitive charges are taxable. Punitive charges are extra charges payable by a party found guilty of extreme negligence or causing willful death.