How Much Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?

how much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth settlement value

If you have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence or intentional actions of another party, then you may well be considered bringing a wrongful death lawsuit. 

In case you're wondering why you might want to bring such legal action, it's worth explaining why these claims are often necessary in the event of an unexpected death of a relative or someone upon which you depend financially. 

Why Make A Wrongful Death Claim? 

Losing a loved one is hard, no matter the cause. There's also no price you can put on the personal loss you have had to endure as a result of their passing. 

However, while a wrongful death lawsuit won't bring them back, a wrongful death claim can hold the responsible party accountable and help you with financial losses. 

This is particularly the case if you are financially dependent on the decedent. Unfortunately, when a loved one dies, concerns about money and existing household bills do not go away. 

Therefore, there isn't any shame in asking your attorney, "how much can you sue for wrongful death?" 

The Value Of A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Will Depend On The Type Of Claim Filed 

It's important to note at this point that there is no such thing as a typical wrongful death settlement. Each case is unique, and they are decided on the specific details pertaining to the incident, the victim, and the severity of the defendant's wrongdoing. 

It's also essential to understand that there are many different specific types of damages available as compensation. There are several economic damages, such as medical costs or loss of income from an employer. Then there are non-economic damages such as the victim's suffering before they died or the loss of love and companionship of those who survive them. 

In other words, there are several categories of damages that you may pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit. How much money you receive will depend on the nature of the incident, the victim's age and health, their earning capacity, and how many dependents they supported with their income. 

The type of incident is particularly critical since, in wrongful death medical malpractice cases, 90% of juries side with the doctor. By contrast, interstate tuck crushes are much more likely to yield a positive outcome since the standards governing those companies (like OSHA and the FMCSR) are so clear-cut. 

How Much Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Settled For? 

In the past, there have been some sizable wrongful death settlements and jury awards that reflect how much these sorts of cases can be worth. 

Some notable examples include a $150 million jury award for a 13-year-old girl who witnessed her entire family's death in a car accident on the freeway. 

Another noteworthy case was when a Massachusetts jury awarded $32.3 million to the family of a woman killed when a motorist drove into the store where she worked. 

However, not all wrongful death lawsuits end with settlements totaling millions of dollars. If successful, the monetary amount awarded to you or your family members will reflect the specific factors above, such as the victim's earning potential and the costs incurred as a result of the death. 

In some states, you may be able to pursue punitive damages as part of a wrongful death lawsuit, potentially increasing your compensation award. 

Not All Awards Of Wrongful Death Damages Are Collectible 

However, an important issue is collectability. You need to factor in how much of any judge-enforced settlement you could collect. In the case of a claim made against a Fortune 500 company, this will not be an issue. 

But, in most instances, you will come up against individuals with insurance policies that will only cover the defendant up to a certain amount. For example, physicians may have as little as $1 million in malpractice insurance coverage in some states. As another example, most individual drivers have car insurance policies with less than $100,000 in tort liability coverage. 

What's worse is that both malpractice and negligence awards are dischargeable in bankruptcy. A defendant can claim bankruptcy to wipe the debt away and come out of bankruptcy with a clean slate. Thus, it's essential to weigh up what a defendant could reasonably pay when your attorney negotiates a settlement. 

If you feel there is another party directly responsible for the death of someone close to you, then the best place to start is with a wrongful death attorney. 

They will advise you of the likelihood of securing a settlement, estimate a ballpark figure based on the factors described above, and can negotiate on your behalf.

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