A wrongful death claim or lawsuit allows you to pursue compensation from the party liable for your loved one’s untimely death. Although no amount of money can undo the pain and loss you are experiencing, it can bring appreciated financial stability and possibly a sense of justice or closure. With this in mind, it is completely understandable if you have found yourself asking how much do you get for a wrongful death lawsuit? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer because the value of a wrongful death case is entirely dependent on details unique to that case. One could be worth a few thousands of dollars in damages and the next could be valued at a few million.
What Contributes to a Wrongful Death Claim’s Value?
The total value of a wrongful death claim you file can be changed by:
- Medical bills: Catastrophic injuries and illnesses that cause a wrongful death are often addressed with intense medical procedures to try to save the patient’s life. As such, it is common for a wrongful death claim to include damages for expensive medical bills like emergency surgeries and extended hospitalization. On the other hand, if the deceased person passed away suddenly, such as in a violent car accident, then there might be minimal medical costs. Between these two circumstances, the total value of medical care will be dramatically different.
- Missing wages: The deceased person’s occupation will change the value of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit filed in their name because the claimant or plaintiff – often a family member or estate administrator – can sometimes demand compensation to make up for the income the deceased would have earned in life if they had never been wrongfully killed. For example, the annual wage differences between a retail store manager and an accomplished neurosurgeon will likely be significant.
- Funeral costs: Funerals and burials all cost different amounts. In a deceased person’s will, there might be instructions about how they would like to be buried or interred, which will adjust the cost of their last rites. A funeral procession with the church’s assistance can cost much more than a cremation, for example.
- Age and health: The overall wellbeing of the deceased person just before their accident is also a major factor in determining the total value of a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages can be rewarded based on a “reduced life expectancy.” Such damages will increase the healthier and younger the deceased person was before passing away when compared to someone who is elderly or has a terminal illness.
- Perceived pain and suffering: The cause of death will play a part in calculating a wrongful death claim’s value, too, if damages can be rewarded according to the deceased person’s perceived pain and suffering caused by their fatal injury or illness. The worse it can be assumed that they suffered, the greater the noneconomic damage that can be rewarded.
- Lost companionship: Roles that the deceased person played in their family’s life add to the value of a wrongful death lawsuit filed in their name because companionship, parental guidance, and support for household tasks all can be translated into financial damage. For example, imagine that a truck accident ended the life of someone who provided day-to-day care for their elderly parent. The lawsuit could demand payment to hire an in-home caretaker for the rest of that parent’s life because the service that was once provided by their child was ended due to the liable party’s negligence.
- State laws: Even the state you call home will affect what money you can get through a successful wrongful death lawsuit or claim. Some states place damage caps or limitations on what you can receive as a plaintiff.
All of these factors and more can change how much you can get for a wrongful death lawsuit. Calculating them accurately is usually made much easier with the representation of a local wrongful death attorney who has spent years dealing with similar cases.
Where Does the Money Come from in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If your wrongful death claim is successful, then who is going to pay for those damages? Typically, an insurance company representing the defendant has to provide the compensation, whether it was reached through a settlement or a verdict. For example, an auto insurance company will pay for the damages caused by one of their policyholders in a fatal car accident.
In rare circumstances, the defendant can be ordered to provide the damages themselves if no insurance policy applies to the case. Courts do not often reach this conclusion, though, because the liable parties are usually unable to afford to pay those damages themselves, so some sort of damage cap might be used.
Do You Have to Pay Taxes on a Wrongful Death Settlement?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not tax your wrongful death claim settlement or verdict. IRS Rule 1.104-1 states that you cannot be taxed on any monetary reward provided due to an injury or illness caused by another party, extending even to situations involving wrongful death. Unless there are some highly unusual complications with your tax situation, your wrongful death claim should be untaxable.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim with Our Help
Maring Williams Law Office offers wrongful death claim representation and counsel to people in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. We know that you are going through so much right now and that you need time to grieve. That is why we do not provide just outstanding legal services but also a genuinely compassionate shoulder to lean on. Call (701) 402-6644 or contact us now to request our legal services.