Calculating the average wrongful death settlement seems ghoulish because it requires putting a cash value on human life. According to a post at scholarship.law.campbell.edu, putting a cash value on life seems repugnant to many people. However, courts do this regularly as part of the job of adjudicating lawsuits. Lawyers take into account a person’s potential earnings over an average lifespan, and pain and suffering damages are based on the loss of that person and the severity of pain and injuries that the decedent and family members suffered.
Wrongful Death Recovery Averages
Putting a price tag on the value of a human life introduces a major challenge for the heirs of the deceased victims. Many factors must be balanced including life expectancy, expected earnings, the severity of injuries, the victim’s age and health, and whether the victim has minor children or other dependents. According to a post at floridabar.org, some states put strict limits on non-economic damages to reduce the possibility of overwhelming jury awards. These often involve lawyers who generate emotional responses in jury members that result in huge awards.
Many states seek to eliminate these over-the-top jury awards. For example, the state of Florida passed laws that limit non-economic damages to $500,000 per plaintiff in personal injury cases and $1 million in wrongful death lawsuits. The average wrongful death lawsuit pays anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million or more. However, plaintiffs should consider the following facts before filing a wrongful death lawsuit:
Some states prevent distant relatives from filing and carefully investigate those who do.
Most states — absent a will — place the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit into the victim’s estate.
State law determines how the estate is divided in the absence of a will.
Relatives could be ineligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit or recover any money from the estate.
Most people carry some burden of debt, and the legal debts must be paid first from any wrongful death settlement.
Satisfying all the victim’s debts and medical bills might not leave much money for legitimate heirs.
For these reasons, relatives are warned to investigate the victim’s finances carefully before initiating a wrongful death lawsuit that might not provide enough money to be worth the effort.
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Cases
According to a post at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, the U.S. tort system is designed to compensate people for injuries, provide justice at least economically, and deter negligence. That’s especially true in medical malpractice cases resulting in wrongful death. The victim is beyond caring about justice. Relatives who qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit don’t have any personal injuries or expenses that need to be handled.
However, relatives can suffer greatly over the death of a cherished family member. Medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits can certainly raise awareness of negligence issues among doctors and hospital staff members. Oddly enough, an overview of clinical studies revealed that there is little or no correlation between the fear of lawsuits and the quality of care patients receive.
The Value of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
People who genuinely want justice and economic awards to discourage people from careless negligence benefit the most from a wrongful death lawsuit settlement. Immediate family members often depended heavily on the victim for economic support, which suddenly stopped. Family members often face extra financial burdens like covering funeral expenses, supporting minor children, and paying past medical bills. Wrongful death cash settlements can be a tremendous advantage for these close relatives.
Consulting an experienced wrongful death attorney helps you to decide whether the case is worth pursuing given the level of the deceased’s debts and how the state will divide the victim’s assets. Hiring a wrongful death attorney can bring you justice and financial security under the right circumstances.
About the author: Crystal A. Davis
How does one combine a passion for journalism with a strong sense of justice? For Crystal, the choice was simple: legal journalism. Born and raised in a family of attorneys but wanting to approach the law from an investigative angle, Crystal decided that people would not hear her voice in the court, but online, in magazines, journals, and other platforms. When she is not studying active lawsuits closely to report on them, she writes public-friendly articles detangling the complicated threads representing the American legal system.
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