How are Wrongful Death Settlements Calculated?

With personal injury claims becoming far more common than they have ever been in years past, individuals are being held accountable for their negligence at a much higher rate than they ever have been before. Despite how much more prevalent such claims have been, wrongful death lawsuits are still relatively rare – and no matter what the circumstance, death is the last thing any individuals want to deal with – whether you have known them for years, or they are a perfect stranger, the value of life is far too high to see anyone waste it, due to negligent, often careless actions. Despite the value of one’s life, many individuals don’t even understand what a wrongful death claim is at all, according to Mr. Joel Levine, Esc. the top wrongful death lawyer Brooklyn has to offer, a wrongful death lawsuit is a claim for monetary damages from an individual whose negligent actions have been deemed to cause the death of another individual.

While assigning negligence isn’t exactly easy, but it is in fact probably the easiest aspect of a wrongful death claim. Far more difficult than deciding upon one party’s negligence is calculating, without concrete numbers, how much that individual’s negligence is worth – as such a situation may even require the help of financial professionals and even economists. According to Mr. Levine, the top wrongful death lawyer Brooklyn has in practice, when wrongful death cases are resolved by a settlement, each case varies in the amount ultimately settled upon. Cases that proceed to trial through the court system may result in complete dismissal of the case or varying amounts of damages.

The thing that individuals must understand about wrongful death claims – especially those individuals who might be an immediate relative, parent, child or spouse of an individual who passed away, and is now the subject of a wrongful death claim, is that placing a monetary value on a settlement is difficult and requires us to look into several different factors. These factors can include:

    • The individual’s age (the deceased).
    • The individual’s earning capacity.
    • The individual’s health – past, present and future state of health.
    • The individual’s income at the time of their death.
    • The age and circumstances of any of the deceased individual’s dependents.
    • The individual’s education, knowledge and training.
    • Medical bills and other expenses to do with the deceased individual.
    • Funeral expenses, burial, or cremation.
    • Value of any benefits that might have been lost, life insurance, and other possible financial details.

The issue with such compensatory damages is that its not just a ballpark figure that you need to come up with, but rather a specific dollar amount that’s supported by objective evidence and detailed knowledge of the above factors and more – if needed. Another thing to understand, according to Mr. Levine, the top wrongful death lawyer Brooklyn has in practice, is that wrongful death settlements, are often paid out by the insurance providers, who provided liability coverage for the person or entity for whom the death is being blamed on. Insurance policies typically have a policy limit amount, above which the insurance company will not pay and the person is individually liable. If the responsible party does not have sufficient insurance coverage, they will be personally responsible for any judgment or settlement amount and possibly the legal fees accrued in the process. In addition, such payments, according to the IRS, most wrongful death settlement payments are non-taxable, with the understanding that these payments are compensatory damages – meant to account for the pain and suffering experienced by the individual involved.

If the damages are considered punitive, or meant to punish the person responsible for the death, then the IRS may tax the punitive damages. The fact is that a settlement must be agreed upon as well, by both sides – so if you do not agree with the monetary damages listed through the specific settlement, than it is within your rights to decline any such settlement, and continue to trial and push things further into the court proceedings. Depending on the strength of your case, and your attorney, you may be able to earn quite a bit more taking things to court. For more information on wrongful death claims or other personal injury issues, be sure to contact Levine & Wiss PLLC today.