Wrongful Death Settlements Questions Answered
In the grieving process for a loved one lost to wrongful death comes the reality that the family may face financial hardship without a fair wrongful death settlement. Wrongful death lawyers help grieving family members – through a representative of the decedent’s estate – file wrongful death claims to compensate family members or the estate for the wrongful death of their family member.
Since most of us are not wrongful death attorneys, it is understandable that families feel overwhelmed about wrongful death claims and wrongful death settlements. With over 40 years’ experience helping families recover damages for the loss of their loved ones, we are happy to answer questions that help provide peace of mind to our grieving clients.
What You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Settlements
What is a wrongful death settlement?
A wrongful death settlement is a sum of money obtained through a wrongful death claim to compensate the family of a deceased individual. It is the resolution of a civil complaint that a representative of the decedent’s estate brings on behalf of a person who is the victim of a fatal personal injury.
Who may bring a wrongful death claim?
A personal representative of the estate may bring a claim. As outlined in Washington State’s RCW 4.20.020, the deceased person’s spouse, registered domestic partner and children are given priority to file a wrongful death claim. If the decedent didn’t have a spouse, registered domestic partner or any children, then parents or siblings may recover through the personal representative of the deceased.
What is the average wrongful death settlement?
Although no amount of money can ever really compensate a family for the loss of their loved one, a wrongful death settlement should reflect the tragic loss to the loved one’s family. As far as the average amount, it is important to understand that settlements vary widely depending on the circumstances of each case. In some ways there is no such thing as a typical wrongful death settlement because each wrongful death case has its own, unique characteristics and the laws that apply to your case will impact the amount of your compensation. Having said that, settlements typically range from $500,000 to over $1 million.
What can I recover for in a wrongful death claim?
Like other types of personal injury settlements, wrongful death settlements cover both economic (financial) and non-economic (non-financial) damages. Your wrongful death attorney will determine which damages apply to your case and place a value on each to calculate the total value of your claim. Recoverable damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Burial expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Future lost wages and financial support that would have been provided by the deceased person
- Lost household services that would have been provided by the deceased person
Factors that will be considered before reaching a settlement amount:
- The age and health of the deceased person
- The income and future earnings of the deceased person
- The needs of the surviving dependents
What are common types of wrongful death cases?
There are many circumstances that can lead to wrongful death cases, including:
- Car accidents
- Defective products
- Intentional misconduct such as homicide
- Negligent security
- Slip and falls
- Medical malpractice
How to get a fair wrongful death settlement in Washington State
Your wrongful death lawyer will fight to get you the maximum wrongful death settlement by following several steps, including:
- Filing the case in the right jurisdiction and standing
- Drafting the complaint that accurately shows the legal basis for your claim
- Valuing your claim appropriately
- Building a strong case based on evidence
- Negotiating a settlement
- Taking the case to trial if a fair settlement cannot be negotiated
Seek the help of a wrongful death attorney
If you lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error or the reckless/negligent behavior of another, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced wrongful death attorney fight for justice on your behalf. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a wrongful death lawyer. Call the most experienced practicing wrongful death attorneys Bellingham has at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing grieving family members in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!