Wrongful death lawsuits are a type of personal injury claim. If you are contemplating starting such a claim, you may be wondering what the wrongful death lawsuit settlement average is.
Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately gauge the wrongful death lawsuit settlement average because each case is unique. How much someone can recover depends entirely on the circumstances.
Wrongful death lawsuits may also involve survival action claims. Settlements for these suits can range anywhere from a few thousand to millions of dollars.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death actions are asserted by the decedent’s surviving family members or dependents to recover financial compensation for their losses. In California, someone has two years from the date of the person’s death to begin a wrongful death lawsuit.
The types of damages covered by wrongful death settlements include funeral expenses, emotional trauma, and loss of income, benefits, household support, and companionship. There are many factors that can affect how much you can recover from a wrongful death settlement, including:
- The decedent’s age—the younger they were, the higher the value of the claim;
- Their income and profession;
- How many dependents the decedent had;
- Whether the decedent had a financially dependent spouse;
- Their level of responsibility for their own death;
- The circumstances of their death; and
Family members cannot seek punitive damages or damages for the decedent’s physical pain and suffering or emotional distress in a wrongful death suit.
California does not cap wrongful death settlements. California also does not specify how non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship, must be calculated. Juries are instructed to decide a reasonable amount based on evidence and common sense.
Payouts for these settlements can be in the form of a lump sum or a structured settlement paid out over time.
Survival actions compensate a decedent’s estate for losses that the person would have recovered if they had survived. Someone has two years from the wrongful act, or six months after the decedent’s death (whichever is later) to begin a survival action.
Either the estate’s representative or the person’s successor in interest can bring a survival action for medical bills, lost wages, and personal property damage that happened between the time of the act that caused the person’s injury, and their death.
Punitive damages are also recoverable in a survival action. Punitive damages punish people for behaving in a way that displays a willful and conscious disregard for someone else’s rights or safety. Their amount is based on the defendant’s wealth and the egregiousness of their conduct and the actual harm suffered by the victim.
Damages in a survival action may include things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering of the deceased person prior to death. Survival action settlements are paid to the estate and can be used to pay estate debts or inheritances based on a will or California estate laws.
One last note is that Medicare or Medi-Cal cannot recover any compensation paid for the decedent from a wrongful death lawsuit, however, it is possible for them to recover from a survival action.
Wells Call Injury Lawyers Can Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim
It is impossible to over-stress the importance of a well-structured claim backed with supporting evidence. The insurance companies will try to pay out as little as possible, so you need to document and demonstrate the full impact of your loss.
An experienced wrongful death attorney will present your story in as persuasive a manner as possible to ensure the best possible outcome. The attorneys at Wells Call Injury Lawyers have extensive personal injury experience, and we work with you to achieve the best results.
After we discuss your case, we can better explain what kinds of damages may be available to you. Contact us to schedule your consultation.