Although we normally cover much happier topics, this particular topic and question came up recently. I wanted to cover it not because of what the title implies (that we just want money) but that there are times when something happens and there are ways for a family to be made whole, financially… even if not
One of the toughest cases for attorneys to deal with is wrongful death lawsuits. They are difficult not because of their technicalities, although that can be the case, they are difficult because of the sheer emotion involved. In order to talk about how much a wrongful death lawsuit is worth, we may want to first constitute what wrongful death is. Simply put, the answer to, “Did you have any of your loved
For example, there were 1,170 traffic fatalities in 2014 across the state of Georgia. The number includes both the at-fault drivers and other cases like drunk driving – which can result in wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The wrongful death claim represents the claim of the surviving spouse and grieving children. The survival claim represents lost lifetime wages and other sufferings of the deceased person. You can file a wrongful death claim if you’re an immediate family member. If you’re a parent, spouse, child or even distant family members like siblings and financial dependents, you may be eligible to apply.
However, do note that people who are eligible to claim can differ from State to State, and it’s something your wrongful death attorney can help you with.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?
Unfortunately, we can only tell you it depends. According to the laws in Georgia, lawyers cannot guarantee any result to their clients. Each case is unique, and the circumstances decide the value of the lawsuit. The specifics of a case such as a medical record or even a photograph can change the worth of wrongful death lawsuit considerably.
The following factors can give you an idea about the costs.
The Nature of Lawsuit
The settlement of wrongful death lawsuits cover the economic damages of the deceased such as:
Medical expenses are the costs which have been incurred by the decedent as a result of the accident, or mishap till the time of the death. Medical expenses will include the costs of hospital stay, doctor fees, medications, medical procedures, nursing charges and so on. You can get the costs covered in the settlement in a wrongful death case.
Lost income is made up of the earnings that the decedent would have earned till the time of his retirement. It includes the normal wages along with bonuses, incentives, work benefits, government benefits and so on. Income from self-employment is also considered under lost income.
Courts also count other non-economic damages such as the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased. Depending on the case, you may only be entitled to the decedent’s compensation if the death occurred at workplace.
The nature of the death is important too. Medical negligence, for instance, will be more difficult to prove than cases relating to death at construction sites. Juries also are more likely to award the case when the death has been caused by drunk driving.
The Extent of Economic Damages
The personal loss encountered by family members can never be compensated by financial settlements. However, the law does not base its judgment on personal loss but on economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages.
The lost wages is determined by asking different questions and then, the amount of compensation decided on.
- What type of job did your loved one perform?
- Was there a possibility of an increase in income in the future?
Other aspects such as retirement age and contributions towards the family also count under lost wages.
Our economists and lawyers can also work out other economic damages such as medical expenses, hospital bills, burial and funeral costs incurred as a result of wrongful death.
The extent of Non-Economic Damages
Your loved one can go through mental and physical pain because of the injury till the time they die. The compensation for such sufferings is filed under the survival claim.
The defendant or insurance companies can argue that the decedent felt no pain in cases of high impact accidents, explosions and so on. However, your attorneys can call in neurologists and pathologists who can point out otherwise.
The wrongful death claim will include the contributions that the family would have received from the decedent such as costs for education, food, shelter, clothing, entertainment and so on.
How Much Money Can You Get?
The value of the wrongful death lawsuit thus depends on different factors. Now, the question is, how much you can collect from the defendant or the company.
For claims against Fortune 500 companies, it becomes easier as they’ve more funds. On the other hand, in case of medical negligence, the doctor or hospital could file for bankruptcy which will negate the claims.
An experienced wrongful death attorney in Duluth or in your area will be able to assess your situation and help you file a wrongful death lawsuit.