A wrongful death suit is filed to claim damages from a person whose negligence has led to the death of another person. These lawsuits can be filed against anyone who has caused a death. This includes medical professionals, manufacturers, negligent drivers, and so on.
It is always difficult to calculate the amount of damages in a wrongful death case, and will need the help and expertise of an economist or a financial professional. Different wrongful death claims varies in the agreed amount, when these cases are resolved through a settlement. However, the cases that proceed to trial in the court might result in complete dismissal of the case or some of the damage amounts.
Wrongful Death Case Scenarios
While filing a wrongful death case, there should be evidence to prove that the death happened due to the negligence of another person. If you are able to prove that the person who caused the accident was negligent while driving, leading to the accident and death of some other person, your wrongful death action is more likely to succeed.
A wrongful death suit can be filed against drivers, who do not follow the traffic rules and lead to accidents, distracted drivers who fail to pay attention, medical professionals who offer their services negligently, and so on.
Determining Wrongful Death Settlement
It is very difficult to place a monetary value on a life. However, many factors are taken into account while finding the monetary settlement value for a wrongful death claim. Below listed are some of these important factors.
- The age of the person who died due to the negligence of the other person
- The earning capacity of the deceased person
- The state of health of the deceased
- The age and living circumstances of the dependents of the deceased
- The income of the deceased at the time of death
- The education and training of the deceased
- The expenses of the funeral
- Medical bills and expenses that are incurred for the treatment of the victim
- Value of the benefits lost (health insurance, pension, etc.)
It is very important to ensure that the damages settlement amount is not just a ballpark estimate. You should provide objective evidence to support the claims. Expert wrongful death attorneys and economists can look into the circumstances and situations of the deceased person to fix the settlement amount.
Paying Out the Wrongful Death Settlement
The insurance providers offering liability coverage to the entity or person, on which the wrongful death is blamed, usually pay out most of the wrongful death settlements. Insurance policies will be having a limit amount though, and the company will not pay above that. In such case, the person or the entity causing the wrongful death will be liable to make the payment.
If the party responsible for the accident and death does not have sufficient insurance coverage, it will be their personal responsibility to provide the settlement amount and all the other legal charges that are accrued in the process.
Is Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable
As per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) most of the wrongful death settlements are non taxable, if the payments are compensatory, meaning that the financial compensation is offered to account for the suffering and pain experienced. However, the damages that are considered punitive will be taxed by the IRS, as punitive damages are meant to punish the person who is responsible for the death.
It is always important to set forth if the damages are punitive or compensatory in nature, as it can help avoid any confusion while reporting to the IRS. Any person receiving a wrongful death settlement should consult an attorney of wrongful death and a financial expert to review the tax repercussions of the settlement proposal before accepting it.
What if you Disagree with Settlement Proposal
There can be situations when you are not satisfied with the settlement proposal and disagree with the offer. In such situations, you can proceed to a trial in the court to prove the right to damages. You may also have to prove the amount of damages that you are seeking.
Another important point that you need to understand is that proceeding to a court trail can be risky, as it cannot be guaranteed that you will get all the damages that you seek. However, if you are successful at the trial, you might be able to get more than the offered settlement amount.
An attorney of wrongful death can help you review the case, and find out the type of damages incurred as well as the amount that you can claim. An experienced attorney of wrongful death will be familiar with the damages incurred in cases such as yours, and can offer you the necessary legal advices to help you through the complete process.