There are more than 100,000 unintentional injury deaths that occur in the United States of America, each year.
An unintentional injury isn’t always attributable to someone else’s negligence, but when it is, it raises the important question of liability. If you or someone you know has lost someone to an accident like this, you are probably pursuing or thinking of pursuing legal action.
This article explores the various factors that affect your wrongful death settlement and will help you understand the variables that affect the outcome of your case.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the very definition of a wrongful death claim.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In a nutshell, wrongful death refers to a death caused by the negligent actions of a third-party. To hold the defendant accountable, you must be able to establish the following criteria in your case:
- That the defendant owed some duty of care towards the victim
- This duty was breached
- The failure to perform this duty directly caused the death of the victim
- The death of the victim has resulted in some damages so caused to the plaintiff in question
If you have strong evidence for all of the above, you are likely to reach a point of settlement. The settlement itself and the amount decided upon will depend largely on the following factors.
The Degree of Liability and Wrongful Death Settlement
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, there can be multiple individuals who share liability. Sometimes, the victim could also be partially at fault. In the case of the latter, you would naturally be entitled to a lower settlement amount, than if the negligence was entirely on the part of the defendants.
Generally, liability is looked at with the consideration of what the average person would do in a given situation. As discussed above, this is in the context of the defendant owing a certain duty of care towards the victim, and failing to do their part. For example, a doctor definitely owes a duty of care towards their patients.
In this case, if the doctor fails to meet the average standard of care, expected from a medical professional in a similar situation. Such failure is the direct cause of death, you are likely to receive a higher settlement amount.
However, in the event that the patient failed to disclose crucial information that could potentially change the doctor’s approach to the case, the settlement amount would be lowered. Once again, do note that this is subjective to the information.
The degree to which it would change the doctor’s approach, and how it would have otherwise impacted the case.
Similarly, the degree of liability is examined in other scenarios involving wrongful death, as well.
Damages to the Plaintiff
There are a few types of damages considered while determining the amount due to the plaintiff in a wrongful death settlement. Here is a brief explanation of three major concepts, and how they impact your settlement.
The first involves tangible or monetary losses caused to the plaintiff due to the death of the victim. This includes the cost of medical treatment, funeral and burial costs, and the loss of the potential income for the victim. The latter is especially important if the plaintiff was financially dependent on the victim.
In certain cases, the loss of inheritance or property is also considered while evaluating the settlement amount.
Additionally, a “survival claim” can also be made, where the plaintiff seeks compensation for the victim’s suffering as experienced before the death. However, this can also extend to include other monetary damages that occurred prior to the death of the victim. For example, loss of earnings, or the loss of earning capacity.
The second is intangible losses which refer to damages that cannot necessarily be quantified. Not all damages can be measured in terms of money or another metric.
You are also entitled to damages in the form of loss of companionship, loss of contribution to the household upkeep or any other services provided by the deceased, loss of care, guidance, love, sexual relationships, and other emotional support provided by the deceased.
Legal Representatives and Negotiation Ability
Finally, one of the major factors that affect your claim is your choice of legal representatives. This includes their ability to represent your case and negotiate on your behalf. Most wrongful death cases come with their own sets of legal hurdles. This requires a special set of skills to maneuver around.
The right wrongful death attorney will be experienced, knowledgeable, and tactful.
Additionally, wrongful death claims must be filed in time and with minimal delay. Missing a deadline will negatively impact your settlement amount. This means you should pursue legal action as soon as you can to maximize your chances of winning.
Getting the Most Out of Your Wrongful Death Claim
There are several variables that impact your settlement amount. These include the degree of liability on the part of the defendant, the monetary and intangible damages caused to the plaintiff, the survival claims, and the legal representatives you choose.
Sweet Law consists of a team of skilled and knowledgeable legal professionals who have helped hundreds of clients file successful claims and get the most out of their wrongful death settlements. We can do the same for you!
To set up a consultation or find out more about our services, get in touch with us through the information listed on our website.