What is the Average Settlement Amount in a Wrongful Death Case?
After a loved one dies, money is not the first thing on your mind. However, a bad situation can turn much worse if you don’t get your financial matters in order in time. That is why filing a wrongful death case is very important if you suspect the incident was someone’s fault.
The value of a wrongful death case is determined by several different criteria. It is important to understand them in order to know how much a wrongful death case is worth.
Here are some of the factors that determine the value of a wrongful death case:
Damages of the deceased and his dependents
While every life is equally sacred, in a wrongful death case it matters who the deceased was: his occupation, marital status and estate etc. First of all, the decedent’s estate has a claim for future lost net earnings. So, if a person is unemployed, it will not be much. But if someone has considerable earnings, the situation is different.
Another thing to consider is if there were any dependents. The surviving spouse and each child can see separate cases. There are also other people who can file such a claim.
The jury is crucial in the determination of how much a particular wrongful death case is worth. And there are many reasons why.
First of all, if the jury feels empathy for the family, they are likely to award more money. It is important that when relatives testify on the witness stand, they are likable. They should be sympathetic, trustworthy and respectable, so that the jurors relate to their tragedy. On the other hand, if the family is rude and obnoxious, the jury might think they just want to make money and try to get rich.
It is part of the job of wrongful death lawyers to instruct their clients how to behave in the courtroom.
The worth of the case is also determined by what the jury thinks of the deceased. If they think he was a good person and his life was valuable, the value of the case increases.
Defendant’s insurance coverage
The worth of the case is very often determined by how much the defendant can pay. It is pointless to expect someone to pay you a million dollars if you know they only have ten thousand. So, it is usually better to settle for the amount of insurance coverage available for a company to resolve the wrongful death claim.
Of course, you could go to court to target additional assets for more compensation. But the process will likely take you half that money anyway and a lot of time. Moreover, the defendant can always declare bankruptcy and then the court verdict becomes worthless and you will never get anything. So, it is very risky.
The identity of the wrongdoer
The more egregious the defendant’s act of negligence was, the more your case is worth. If the defendant had other similar charges before, it also increases the value of the case. But if the defendant is a sympathetic person who convinces the jury that he couldn’t help, they will award a smaller amount. So, experienced wrongful death lawyers usually evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the defendant in order to determine the value of a case.
The jurisdiction and venue of a wrongful death case
A jury in a big city will generally award more money than in a small rural town. Another important thing is the jurisdiction. Different states have different laws that will affect the worth of a particular case.
It is true that judges are supposed to be impartial. But every judge is a human being after all, so it matters what their personal preferences are. It helps if your wrongful death lawyer is familiar with the court and the judge who will preside over your case.
All wrongful death cases are different and they are not all worth the same. It is very important to understand this fact when you file a claim. Wrongful death lawyers can help you handle the process and make it easier.