Although every wrongful death case is different, the average settlement can range from $500,000 to around $1 million. Some cases can end up with smaller or larger settlements.
There’s no magical average number with wrongful death settlements, but they can be up to $1 million.
What Are Some Typical Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts?
Typically, the average wrongful death settlement can amount to around $500,000 to $1 million or even more depending on the circumstances of the case. However, in some cases, there’s a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that the victim’s family can recover.
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How to Calculate Losses or Potential Losses from Wrongful Death
Your losses, also known as economic damages, are calculated based on expenses that have already been spent or will be spent in the future. These include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and potential earning capacity had the decedent lived.
How to Analyze Intangible Losses
The court also takes into consideration the non-economic damages suffered by the surviving family members. Calculating those losses is more challenging because they don’t have any tangible number associated with them. These damages include things such as loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of guidance, care and support and mental anguish. Punitive damages may also be factored in if the defendant showed horrendous conduct in the situation that caused the victim’s death.
Why Are Wrongful Death Settlement Calculators Often Inadequate?
Wrongful death settlement calculators are often inadequate because there’s no one-size-fits-all settlement amount in such a case. All wrongful death cases are unique, so the settlement amount that works for one family might not be appropriate for the next.
What Factors Can Impact Your Wrongful Death Settlement Amount?
Different factors can cause your wrongful death settlement to be higher or lower. They include the victim’s age, health at the time of their death, education and professional abilities, how they financially supported their family and whether they were partially responsible for the accident or other situation that ultimately led to their death.
How Age Affects Wrongful Death Settlements
If the victim died while they were still young and would have been able to continue living a productive life for a few more decades, the wrongful death settlement could be higher. However, cases involving young children often result in less money due to the unknown. If the victim was an elderly person, the surviving family members might recover less compensation in a settlement because of the decedent’s age. This also holds true when retirement is a factor.
How Income, Education and Training Affect Wrongful Death Settlements
The decedent’s income, education and training can affect the surviving family’s wrongful death settlement. Higher incomes and educational levels often result in higher settlement amounts because the victim could have earned significant amounts of money had they lived. Training level can also play a part in how much the settlement is worth.
Medical Expenses in Wrongful Death Settlements
If the victim held on for a longer period of time prior to their death, medical expenses are typically higher. These damages can easily be calculated because there is a paper trail of medical bills and expenses paid out of pocket if the victim lacked insurance or had any services that weren’t covered.
Household Services in Wrongful Death Settlements
How the victim contributed to household services makes a difference in the settlement the family receives in a wrongful death case. If they were the main person to perform such services or half along with their surviving spouse, the family could recover higher compensation for this non-economic damage. Household services also apply to how the decedent took care of their minor children and anyone else in the household who was their dependent.
What if Contributory Negligence Is a Factor?
Contributory negligence is a legal theory that means the victim was partially responsible for the accident or situation that led to their death. If the decedent is determined to be a certain percentage liable, that percentage is deducted from the wrongful death settlement and the remainder goes to the surviving family members.
What if Comparative Negligence Is a Factor?
Comparative negligence means that the victim’s level of fault in the events ultimately leading up to their death is compared with the level of fault of the other party. Often, this is used by insurance companies when they are made to pay a settlement in a wrongful death case to assign liability to each party. Depending on the state, liability is divided randomly or through pure comparative negligence (the victim being found 99% at fault but the family is still due damages), modified comparative negligence (if the victim is 50% at fault, the family cannot recover damages), slight or gross negligence or pure contributory negligence.
Does Insurance Cover Wrongful Death?
Depending on the accident or situation that caused the victim’s death, the family can recover their wrongful death settlement from an insurance company. For example, car accidents, defective products and slip-and-fall accidents may compensate the surviving family members. In some cases, however, insurance might not offer a satisfactory monetary amount. An attorney is integral in getting the right amount for the victim’s family.
What Affects the Ability to Pay?
If the defendant, rather than an insurance company, is responsible for compensating the family of a wrongful death victim, there may be an issue with their ability to pay. Some people don’t have a lot of money and insurance may not apply. In that situation, the plaintiffs’ attorney can ensure that the defendant’s wages are garnished to pay the surviving family members.
How Are Funeral and Burial Expenses Calculated?
Calculating funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death settlement is straightforward. The family pays for the victim’s funeral and burial and receives compensation equivalent to what they paid out of pocket.
Calculating Loss of Support
Non-economic damages like loss of support are more challenging to determine in wrongful death cases. Determining how much these damages are worth means considering the decedent’s age, overall health, income and what they might have earned to support their surviving family members had they lived.
Considering Shared Fault By the Victim
If the victim is found to be at all at fault for the accident that caused their injuries and eventual death, the surviving family members receive a settlement amount slightly less than what they seek. Shared fault means that a percentage of the asking amount is deducted from that amount of fault. Various factors determine the decedent’s level of responsibility and the specific laws of shared fault depending on the state.
How Are Other Damages Calculated?
Various other damages are calculated by examining the facts of the case in a wrongful death settlement. These may include both miscellaneous economic and non-economic damages.
How Pain and Suffering Is Calculated in Wrongful Death
Pain and suffering damages in wrongful death claims related to that suffered by the victim prior to their death. For example, if the decedent suffered severe burns in a product liability situation and lived for several days or weeks before passing away, that length of time can determine the value of their pain and suffering.
Liability in Wrongful Death Cases
In all wrongful death cases, the defendant’s liability relates to the financial compensation they owe to the victim’s family. Because these cases are civil and not criminal, the defendant is only responsible for paying for damages and doesn’t face any jail or prison time. Evidence can prove that the defendant is liable to pay the family for the victim’s death.
Understanding the Wrongful Death Act
Under the Wrongful Death Act, when a person dies due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness or deliberate violent actions, their surviving family members have the right to recover compensation for their loss; this is done by filing a lawsuit against the party responsible for the victim’s death.
What Is the Survival Act?
The Survival Act is a law that enables the family members of a wrongful death victim to bring forth a lawsuit against the party at fault. This gives them the right to collect financial damages for their losses due to their loved one’s death.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a type of damage suffered by the spouse of a wrongful death victim. It refers to the loss of companionship, affection and sexual relationship that’s now lost due to the person’s death.
Can You Increase Your Settlement Amount?
Some factors may be able to increase a wrongful death settlement amount. The severity of the damages, the defendant’s degree of fault, insurance coverage, ability to pay and strength of the case all play a part in a possible increase.
Damage Severity in Wrongful Death
Higher severity of damages suffered by the victim’s family can result in a higher settlement amount in the case.
Degree of Fault in Wrongful Death
The higher the defendant’s level of fault, the more likely it is that the victim’s family recovers a higher settlement.
Insurance Coverage in Wrongful Death
When the defendant has higher insurance coverage, it can lead to a higher settlement amount. The family’s attorney can negotiate a higher number.
Strength of a Wrongful Death Case
The more strong evidence in the case, the better the odds of the victim’s surviving family members getting a higher settlement.
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What Does a Settlement Check Cover?
A wrongful death settlement check covers economic damages like medical expenses and lost income as well as non-economic damages like loss of companionship and pain and suffering. There are additional damages that get factored in as well.
Medical Expenses in a Settlement Check
The cost of the victim’s medical expenses prior to their death are included in the wrongful death settlement check that goes to the family.
Lost Income in a Settlement Check
Any lost wages suffered while the victim was unable to work prior to their death is calculated and included in the wrongful death settlement check.
Loss of Companionship in a Settlement Check
Loss of companionship is a non-economic damage that may be challenging to calculate in wrongful death settlements. However, the victim’s surviving spouse can show evidence of how the death has affected them and monetary damages can be applied.
Pain and Suffering in a Settlement Check
Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage relating to how the situation leading up to the victim’s death affected them. For example, a person can remain alive but in severe pain after a car crash before ultimately dying. Finding a monetary amount to attribute to this damage is difficult, but once it’s calculated, it’s added to the wrongful death settlement check.
Additional Damages in a Settlement Check
There are additional miscellaneous damages included in a wrongful death settlement check. Most of these are non-economic.
Economic Damages in a Settlement Check
Economic damages in a settlement check may include medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses and burial or cremation costs.
Punitive Damages in a Settlement Check
If the defendant’s actions in the situation leading to the victim’s death were very outrageous, punitive damages can be included in the wrongful death settlement check.
Non-Economic Damages in a Settlement Check
Non-economic damages in a settlement check include the victim’s pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of guidance, loss of care, loss of support and mental anguish.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death?
The victim’s surviving family members or personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the person’s death.
Understanding Comparative Fault
Comparative fault in wrongful death cases compares the fault on the part of the defendant and the victim.
Insurance Policy Limits in Wrongful Death
Depending on the liable party’s insurance coverage, their insurance policy may have limits that result in insufficient compensation in a wrongful death case.
How Lawyer Quality Affects the Case
The better quality of the plaintiffs’ lawyer in a wrongful death case, the better the odds of a successful outcome and higher settlement.
Avoid Personally Communicating with Insurance Companies
Plaintiffs in wrongful death cases should avoid communicating with insurance company on their own because the insurer will take advantage of them and make a lowball settlement offer. Instead, the attorney should handle discussions with the insurance company.
Settle or Go to Trial?
If the settlement offer from the defendant or their insurance company is unsatisfactory, the plaintiffs have the option of going to trial. However, most wrongful death cases are settled before ever getting to that point.
How Wrongful Death Settlements are Paid Out
Wrongful death settlements are paid out in a lump sum or structured settlement payments.
Understanding Lump Sum Payments
A lump sum is a single payment in a wrongful death case. All the money is paid upfront.
Understanding Structured Settlement Payments
The plaintiffs in a wrongful death case can choose to receive structured settlement payments. These are made once per month or year.
Wrongful Death Settlements and Taxes
There are no taxes involved with wrongful death settlements.
Who Receives the Settlement Money?
In a wrongful death case, the settlement money goes to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. If the person wasn’t married, was divorced or was widowed, their children get the money. If they weren’t married and had no children, the parents are next in line to receive the settlement. Other relatives could receive the settlement money if the individual’s parents are deceased.
Damage Caps on Wrongful Death Settlements
Whether there is a cap on a wrongful death settlement depends on the state. For example, Florida has a cap on non-economic damages.
Average Florida Wrongful Death Settlement
The average Florida wrongful death settlement sits between $500,000 and $1 million. Yet, depending on the facts of the case, the amount can be lower or higher.
Explaining Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
A Florida wrongful death claim is a civil legal action brought forth by the decedent’s personal representative on behalf of their surviving family members.
Damages in a Florida Wrongful Death Case
In a Florida wrongful death case, damages include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of support, loss of guidance, loss of care and mental anguish.
Who Can File?
The victim’s personal representative is the only one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida.
Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action brought against a party at fault for another person’s death through negligence, recklessness or intentional acts of violence. If the victim would have had just cause to file a personal injury claim, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.
What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Cases?
Some examples of wrongful death cases involve auto accidents, commercial truck accidents, workplace accidents, product liability accidents and premises liability accidents.
Auto Accidents in Wrongful Death
Car accidents account for many wrongful death lawsuits. If a driver causes the death of another person due to distraction, intoxication or recklessness, they can be held liable.
Commercial Truck Accidents in Wrongful Death
Many wrongful death cases stem from commercial truck accidents. The family can recover compensation for their damages from the trucking company’s insurer.
Workplace Accidents in Wrongful Death
If a person dies in a workplace accident caused by negligence, their family has a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Product Liability Incidents in Wrongful Death
If a person dies while using a product as it was meant to be used, the surviving family members can collect damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Premises Liability Incidents in Wrongful Death
Slip-and-fall and other accidents occurring on property that result in death warrant wrongful death lawsuits when the property owner failed to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition.
Questions for an Attorney in a Wrongful Death Case
Plaintiffs should ask their wrongful death attorney certain questions, including the following:
• Do I have a case?
• How is wrongful death proved?
• How much is the average settlement?
• What is the time limit to file?
• How long does it take to settle?
• Who receives compensation?
• How much does a wrongful death case cost?
Do I Have a Case?
You have a wrongful death case if the victim would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived.
How Is Wrongful Death Proved?
Wrongful death can be proven if ample evidence exists that shows the defendant’s actions were negligence, reckless or intentionally violent in causing the victim’s death.
How Much Is the Average Settlement?
The average wrongful death settlement is between $500,000 and $1 million.
What Is the Time Limit to File?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years.
How Long Does it Take to Settle?
All wrongful death cases are different, but on average, it can take two to four years for them to settle.
How Much Does a Wrongful Death Case Cost?
Wrongful death cases often cost between $500,000 and $1 million.
How Damages Are Calculated in Florida Wrongful Death Cases
Damages are calculated in Florida wrongful death lawsuits by the harm suffered by the victim and the surviving family members. This is done by determining the economic damages and placing a value on the non-economic damages and combining those numbers.
Economic Damages in Wrongful Death
Economic damages in wrongful death cases include medical expenses, lost wages, the victim’s pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses.
Non-Economic Damages in Wrongful Death
Loss of consortium, loss of companionship, loss of guidance, services and support and mental anguish are non-economic damages in wrongful death cases.
Punitive Damages in Wrongful Death
If the defendant behaved outrageously during the incident ultimately leading to the victim’s death, punitive damages may be awarded to the family. This is a monetary amount meant to punish the defendant for their actions.
How Damages Are Collected
In many wrongful death cases, damages are collected through an insurance company. In some cases, the lawsuit may be filed directly against the defendant.
How Do Florida Wrongful Death Claims Work?
In Florida, the decedent’s personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on the serving family’s behalf.
What Are the Elements of Damages?
The elements of damages in a wrongful death case include the economic losses and physical pain and suffering the victim experienced prior to their death.
Comparative Fault Explained
If the victim played a part in the events resulting in their death, the level of fault they shared is calculated and deducted from the wrongful death settlement.
What Practical Factors Exist?
Practical factors in wrongful death cases include the damages and losses suffered by the victim and the family and how those damages are valued.
What About Insurance Policy Limits?
If the defendant has a limited insurance policy, it could affect the ability to pay a satisfactory settlement amount to the victim’s family.
What Happens When the Defendant is Well-Insured?
The plaintiffs in a wrongful death case have a much better chance of getting a good settlement amount when the defendant is well-insured.
What About Third-Party Defendants?
Sometimes, a wrongful death claim involves third-party defendants. For example, if the victim’s death was caused by a car accident with a distracted truck driver after cargo came loose on the truck, the truck driver and cargo loader or manufacturer would be liable.
Attorney Skills in Wrongful Death
Savvy attorneys are the best chance the surviving family has to get a good settlement in a wrongful death case. The lawyer must have good negotiation skills and be up to the task of litigating if necessary.
What Is the Highest Wrongful Death Settlement?
The highest wrongful death settlement was $160 million.
What Is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Florida?
The average wrongful death settlement in Florida is $500,000 to $1 million.
How Long to Settle Wrongful Death Suit
It can take several months to several years to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.
Average Wrongful Death Settlement in California
There’s no true average settlement amount for California wrongful death cases as every case varies.
Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Suit
If there’s ample evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit, the chances of winning are high.
Average Wrongful Death Settlement in New York
There is no true average wrongful death settlement in New York, but many cases result in $500,000 to $1 million.
Hospital Wrongful Death Settlements
Many hospital wrongful death settlements range in the area of $500,000 to $1 million.