Determining The Value Of Life: Can The Average Wrongful Death Settlement Really Bring A Victim's Family Closure?

The average wrongful death settlement can amount to a lot of money. but does the money really bring a victim’s family closure? Here’s how families cope.

The loss of a beloved family member is a terrible experience, especially when it is due to the negligence of someone else. Whether the person lost is a parent, child, or spouse, the remaining family members will go through the stages of grief, and lasting effects from the untimely death.

Although it is painful to consider the material aspects of losing a loved one, it may be necessary in order to pay the mortgage, keep the family home, and pay for basic living expenses. The average wrongful death settlement can help a family stay in their house, keep their insurance, and make sure the children continue their education.

If you are wondering whether you should pursue a wrongful death suit, here are several subjects you should consider. No matter how difficult, a wrongful death settlement may help ameliorate the terrible loss by ensuring your basic needs are covered.

1. Circumstances of the Dependents

When you file a wrongful death suit, you will have to show the court the losses your family has incurred. You will have to quantify how much your family member would have contributed over the course of his or her lifetime.

The age and circumstances of the decedent’s dependents will play an important role in these calculations. If a father died with several young children still in grade school, the court will consider the wages he would have made and the costs of raising the family without him.

College tuition is one primary cost that will be factored into the final settlement. Other costs of raising kids will also be considered including housing, food, clothing, and extracurricular costs like summer camps and music lessons. Children are entitled to maintain the standard of living they expected to have while their parents were alive.

If a dependent is disabled, the costs of their care throughout their lifetime may be covered.

2. Age and Income of the Decedent

No one can measure the value of a human life in spiritual or emotional terms. However, a wrongful death suit is an attempt to measure the monetary value of a life so that the family may be restored to their former state—at least from a material point of view.

A court will calculate the expected income of a person using the lifespan they would have lived had they not died due to the defendant’s negligence. It will take into account the person's salary at the time they died, their age, and their expected income at the time of death.

If someone dies at age thirty, they should have had a least thirty years of earning potential ahead of them. Their family should be compensated accordingly. On the other hand, someone who dies at age sixty has less of a projected income since it is less likely they would have continued earning money for many more years.

3. Medical Bills

Wrongful death suits, like any personal injury suit, should compensate the family for uncovered medical expenses arising from the accident in question. The death in question in a wrongful death suit may not happen immediately. If a person became injured due to someone’s negligence but died years later, the family can still sue. However, they must prove that the death was a result of the person’s negligent actions.

The family of victims of 9/11 also sued under wrongful death statutes. So did the families of emergency workers who helped with the cleanup and sustained health problems which resulted in their deaths years later. Speak to an attorney to learn more about statutes of limitations and when to file a wrongful death suit.

4. Pain and Suffering

A family may recover for financial loss in a wrongful death suit. They can also seek to recover for emotional losses. Each state has varying rules that dictate what a family may recover for non-economic loss.

Examples of how the court may compensate a family deprived of a loved one include money for grief caused by the death, and disorders caused by such grief such as depression. In many states, you can include “loss of consortium” as a claim, which includes loss of love, comfort, companionship and sexual relations. Children may sue for loss of guidance and counsel.

5. Decedent’s Occupation

Because the estimated income of the decedent is a major factor in the eventual settlement amount, the dead person’s occupation will have an impact on the final judgment. A physician or lawyer can be expected to have had a higher salary than a waiter.

This is not to say that one person is worth more than another. However, if someone who made $100,000 per year dies, their family has the right to seek that amount to compensate for their loss.

6. Contributory Negligence

The circumstances of the death have an impact on the amount of the eventual recovery. If the person who was killed contributed to their own demise, that may affect the dollar figure at stake.

For example, if a person was driving recklessly, over the speed limit, or drunk,  that will affect a wrongful death suit against a car manufacturer where a faulty part may have played a role in the deadly accident.

If someone dies while trespassing in a dangerous area, that may significantly affect their family’s ability to succeed in their claim. The person assumed the risk by trespassing in a dangerous area.

Average Wrongful Death Settlement: Start a New Life

The intention behind allowing a family to sue for wrongful death is to restore them to their former state, before the accident. We all know that no amount of money will ever replace a human being, nor will it magically restore life to what it was before their death.

However, if a family can receive a sum equal to the amount their loved one would have brought into the family had they not died, at least they may stay in their home, feed their children, and start to learn how to live again. The average wrongful death settlement will enable a family to grieve without having to worry about paying the bills
and staying in their home.

Keep checking back for more tips on getting through all kinds of challenges.

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