Description: Determining the amount of compensation for a wrongful death claim is complex and involves everything from medical expenses to the deceased’s contribution.
A wrongful death lawsuit is not something anyone pictures themselves in the middle of in their lifetime. Yet, once you find yourself there, you might wonder how the process works and the average settlement you can expect for your claim.
After the loss of your loved one, it is not about money. But you find yourself facing extensive medical costs, a lost income, and you are trying to grieve. With the insurance company giving you the run around, you realize that the only way to get the money you need to support your family is through a lawsuit.
The average settlement varies depending on the circumstances of the death, level of negligence, and the economic losses it creates. No two settlements are the same, even when the situations seem similar. Therefore, the only way to truly know how much you could expect for a wrongful death case is to speak with an attorney.
While you wait for your consultation, we can go over the factors that determine settlement amounts, and the types of compensation you might receive. This will give you a general idea of what you can expect.
What Factors Determine Wrongful Death Settlements in Louisville?
Wrongful death settlements are awarded to grieving loved ones – typically surviving spouses, minor children, or the parents of the decedent. Determining the value of that death comes down to specific factors:
- How much the deceased would have contributed. Take a parent, for example. A parent provides a second income, companionship to the other spouse, health insurance (possibly), and guidance and rearing of children until they reach age 18. After their death, these services go away. And depending on how much the decedent would have contributed financially, a large portion of the settlement will go towards making up for this economic loss.
- The type of negligence and the degree of that negligence. Another critical factor used to determine settlement is the type of negligence. This can dramatically impact the settlement value of a case, especially if the negligence is gross or there are multiple parties involved in the case. Contributory negligence, on the other hand, can decrease the settlement value – the deceased played a partial role in the accident that caused his or her death.
- The health of the deceased. When deciding how much the decedent would have contributed to the estate, the courts consider the age and health of that person – basically, assessing their life expectancy. They use those expected years to calculate how much per year they would have contributed.
- The education and training of the deceased. The line of work, education, and experience of the deceased also plays a role. After all, someone who is highly qualified will not only earn more over a lifetime, but may have multiple promotion opportunities that would have increased their earnings for their family.
- The overall value of lost benefits. Any benefits the decedent provides to their loved ones become a factor in wrongful death settlements too. For example, the deceased’s pension and how many more years they would have invested into that pension. If the deceased was the sole provider of health insurance, the value of that insurance would also be considered.
What Types of Compensation Can Loved Ones Receive for a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death settlements are based on personal injury claims that would have resulted in a personal injury lawsuit had the victim not died from their injury or illness. Therefore, the compensation you receive would be based on any loss directly associated to the injury itself.
Some types of compensation you could receive as part of a wrongful death settlement include:
- Medical Costs – This is the most common expense that is compensated in a wrongful death case. The victim suffered an injury or illness that led to their death. Therefore, any medical costs associated with that negligent act would be eligible for compensation. This may include doctor’s visits, ambulances, hospitalization, medication, and surgeries.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses – The funeral and burial costs, if they are within reason, are also eligible for compensation.
- Lost Income – Lost income while the victim was hospitalized and after his or her death will be considered as part of the settlement. This can include the lost wages immediately after the accident and leading up to their death and then the future earnings afterward.
- Destruction of Power to Labor and Earn Money – In Kentucky, this type of damage focuses on the loss of services provided by a loved one, and the impact it has on the household, such as earning income to pay for household expenses or contributing to the household duties.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages may apply when the death occurs out of gross negligence or malicious intent. For example, the victim dies from a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunken driver. In some cases, the courts may allow for punitive damages because the defendant’s actions warrant that as punishment. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter the community from engaging in similar acts.
Consult with a Wrongful Death Attorney First
After the death of a loved one, the last thing you should have to worry about is the amount of compensation you will receive or how you will pay for your bills. Instead, you need to meet with a wrongful death attorney who can explain your rights, gather evidence, and handle the negotiations on your family’s behalf.
Speak with attorney Seth Gladstein at the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC today. You can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation online or by calling 502-855-4177.