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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Determined?

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Determined - Sand Law LLC

If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you’ll obviously have a lot of questions. Not only is this a stressful time, it’s also a confusing time. You have no idea of what to expect, and that uncertainty is just making the confusion and stress even worse.

The wrongful death attorneys with Sand Law can help you get through this awful time. We have helped many clients who have tragically lost loved ones obtain the compensation they deserve. If you would like to learn more about what we may be able to do for you, please contact us online or give us a call at 651-291-7263 for a free review of your case.

Understanding Wrongful Death

The definition of a wrongful death is easy to understand. It’s basically a death that should not have happened, usually caused by negligence or recklessness, or a purposeful act committed by another party or parties. If the victim had not been in a certain place at a certain time, the tragedy would not have occurred.

There are a lot of reasons why wrongful deaths occur. Someone could lose their life in a motorcycle accident or a car accident caused by someone who was distracted while driving. The wrongful death could have occurred because the victim slipped and fell in a grocery store aisle because of a spill that wasn’t taken care of in a timely manner.

Regardless of the cause of the wrongful death, the surviving family members of the deceased may be able to take legal action through a wrongful death lawsuit. The following family members may be eligible to file a lawsuit in Minnesota.

  • The surviving spouse.
  • The victim’s children.
  • The parents of the deceased, if the victim had no children or spouse.
  • Siblings if there are no parents, spouse or children.
  • The parents of a child who was the victim of a wrongful death.

Factors that Help to Calculate Your Settlement

You might already have an idea of just how complex a wrongful death lawsuit can be. You’re also probably wondering how much money you could obtain if the insurance company of the defendant (the party that caused the wrongful death) makes you a fair settlement offer.

It’s extremely hard to place a dollar value on someone’s life, of course. But there are certain factors that will oftentimes be used to help determine how much the victim’s family may be able to receive. These include the following:

  • The age of the deceased.
  • The victim’s earning capacity at the time of death.
  • The health of the victim.
  • The income the victim was making.
  • The age of the deceased’s dependents.
  • The deceased’s medical bills and other expenses.
  • The funeral expenses.
  • The value of the deceased’s benefits, such as health insurance, pension and others.

Your attorney can’t just throw out a dollar figure and demand the defendant pay that amount. The money your attorney demands will need to be based on solid, objective evidence. Experts will look at all of the circumstances surrounding the victim and then determine how much the family may be entitled to receive.

How Will Your Wrongful Death Settlement Be Paid Out?

In most cases, the insurance company of the party that caused the death will pay the settlement to the victim’s family. Most insurance policies, however, have a set limit. The insurance company will not pay above that amount. If the matter goes to trial, and the jury awards more than the limit, then the defendant will be liable for the rest of the money.

Will You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Settlement?

The answer to this question depends on the type of settlement you receive. If you receive compensatory payments, they will likely be non-taxable. “Compensatory” simply means money paid to account for the pain and suffering the victim’s family have experienced due to their loss.

In some instances, a jury will award punitive damages if a wrongful death case goes to trial. Punitive damages are typically much higher, because they’re meant to punish the person (or other parties) who caused the death. These types of damages could be taxable.

That’s why it will be very important that any damages you receive are clearly identified as being compensatory or punitive. This will help you avoid any confusion or other problems in regard to reporting the money to the Internal Revenue Service.

What if You Aren’t Offered a Fair Settlement?

It’s an unfortunate fact that, in some instances, an insurance company will refuse to make an equitable settlement offer. This is when you will need the help of an attorney. Your legal representative will fight to convince the insurer to increase the amount of the settlement. If that fair offer is not forthcoming, your attorney can then take your case to trial.

In order to have the best chance of winning your case – and recovering the damages to which you’re entitled – your attorney will have to provide solid evidence. This evidence will need to show that the defendant’s negligence, recklessness or purposeful act caused the death of your loved one.

Why are Some Wrongful Death Verdicts so High?

You may have read about family members of victims of wrongful death receiving millions of dollars in compensation. There are a few reasons why awards in wrongful death cases are increasing. Some believe that juries react to hard numbers, and will be more likely to side with the plaintiff (the family members of the victim) if the plaintiff’s attorney does a good job of proving those numbers.

Hire a Minnesota Wrongful Death Attorney ASAP

If you want the best chance of obtaining the maximum amount of compensation in your case, you’ll need to hire an attorney who not only has experience in wrongful death cases, but also a track record of success. Sand Law attorneys have both.

We not only know how to collect critical evidence, we also know how to present that evidence. While we will work to negotiate a fair settlement offer on your behalf, we’ll be ready to take your case to trial if needed.

Learn more by contacting us online or calling 651-291-7263 to schedule a free consultation.