How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Calculated?
Calculating a wrongful death settlement can be a complex process and will depend on several factors, such as the circumstances of the death, the age and earning potential of the deceased, and the impact of the death on the surviving family members. Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be a traumatic experience, and if you suspect that their death was caused by someone else's negligence, it can be even more unbearable.
You may be wondering how anyone can put a monetary value on a human life. While nothing can replace a loved one, a legal award can help cover expenses and provide some measure of justice. A successful wrongful death claim requires two things: first, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant bears some responsibility for the death in question; second, all damages must be accounted for and totaled to determine a settlement or court award.
Before Calculating The Wrongful Death Settlement
Before you begin attempting to calculate the adequate settlement from of a personal injury claim that involves a loss of life, you need to begin by gathering the documents needed to provide the economic damages that will be entered into evidence.
How Are Settlements Calculated?
To calculate compensation, the attorneys will total associated economic and non-economic damages, including:
Pain and suffering
Loss of earnings
Loss of consortium
Mental anguish of survivors
What Factors Help Quantify A Wrongful Death Settlement?
Assigning a value to a person's life can be an incredibly difficult task, if not impossible, with several factors needing consideration to determine an appropriate amount that represents the losses incurred by the surviving family members.
Some of the factors that are generally considering include:
Age, state of health, and earning capacity of the deceased individual
The income of the deceased person at the time of death
Age and circumstances of the dependents of the deceased individual
The education and training of the deceased person
Expenses incurred for the deceased and the value of lost benefits such as pensions and health insurance
The defendants actions, such as medical malpractice or intentional harm
The legal theory, negligence, intentional conduct, strict liability
The type of accident, such as an motorcycle accident 18 wheeler accident, construction site incident, offshore maritime and admiralty incident, or premises liability claim.
When claiming damages, it is crucial to present objective evidence supporting the specific amounts, instead of relying on mere estimates. Expert witnesses such as economists can analyze the deceased person's circumstances, take into account the various factors, and determine a fair amount.
Calculating Intangible Losses
Wrongful death law acknowledges the profound emotional distress that family members experience following the passing of a loved one. Therefore, the law permits you to seek damages for a range of emotional losses, which include loss of affection, moral support, guidance, attention, companionship, and sexual relationship. These losses are genuine, but determining their worth is complex, as there are no invoices or receipts that can establish their value. As a result, you and your Bay Area wrongful death lawyer will have to explore ways to demonstrate evidence of these intangible losses. Depending on the circumstances, you may be awarded compensation that equals or exceeds the damages awarded for the loss of services and future income.
Is There A Formula For Wrongful Death Settlements?
There is no specific formula for calculating wrongful death settlements, as each case is unique and the damages awarded can depend on various factors. However, prior cases help determine an average wrongful death settlement. for various types of cases. Expert testimony from various professionals, such as economists, medical professionals, and vocational experts, may also be utilized to help determine the value of the damages suffered by the surviving family members in a specific circumstance.
Elements That Negatively Effect The Calculations
In certain circumstances, the amount you receive in a wrongful death settlement may fall short of your expectations, but there are clear reasons for this outcome. For instance, the deceased individual may have played a role in the accident leading to their death. Not all cases are straightforward, and victims may also be responsible for their own negligence.
For instance, your loved one may have failed to signal while cycling, resulting in a commercial truck colliding with them because the driver did not anticipate your loved one's actions. In this case, your loved one shares responsibility for the collision that caused their demise. Consequently, the settlement amount will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. Suppose you estimated that the settlement would be $3 million, but your loved one was 50% liable for the accident. In that case, you would likely receive only $1.5 million.
What If I Disagree With How A Settlement Is Quantified?
If you don’t believe you are offered a fair settlement, you’re free to take the case to trial. If you haven’t consulted with an attorney up to this point, do so before making the decision to go to trial. Taking a wrongful death lawsuit to trial is risky. There is no guarantee a judge will grant you the damages you’re seeking.
To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant:
Was obligated to take due caution or care in the circumstances of the case,
Caused the death of the decedent as a result of their negligence.
For example, in a fatal car accident, it is easy to prove due care. Traffic law requires all drivers to take due care to avoid car accidents while driving. You must also prove that the driver neglected this duty and that their negligence caused the fatal accident. You must prove that the fatality occurred as a direct result of the accident.
Trial success is difficult to predict. If you do succeed at trial, you may be able to recover more than the settlement offer amount, but only if you obtain qualified legal representation.
Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxable?
Generally, compensatory damages awarded in wrongful death cases are not considered taxable income for federal tax purposes. This means that the money awarded for economic damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and funeral costs are not subject to federal income tax.
However, some portions of a settlement or award may be taxable. For instance, if the settlement includes interest, the interest portion may be taxable. Additionally, if the settlement includes punitive damages, those damages may be considered taxable income.
Furthermore, state tax laws regarding wrongful death settlements or awards can vary, and it is important to check with a tax professional or attorney to determine whether the settlement or award is subject to state tax.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
After the settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit, the insurer of the at-fault party will send a check for the entire settlement amount to your attorney. Your lawyer will deduct their fees and other legal expenses from the sum and subsequently send the remaining amount to the survivors of the deceased according to the terms of the settlement agreement. Alternatively, the attorney may give the check to the executor of the estate.
Consult With An Attorney To Evaluate Your Claim
To start discussing your case, contact Sneed & Mitchell LLP without delay. Sneed & Mitchell LLP is committed to aggressively investigating wrongful dearth elements and works to structure the best settlement range when representing families in lawsuits involving the death of a loved on. An experienced attorney will work towards a settlement on your behalf and listen to your story and take the necessary steps to ensure you receive the justice you deserve. To reach Sneed & Mitchell, call 866-434-0014 or fill out our online message form for a prompt response from one of our attorneys.