The wrongful death of a loved one is tragic and heartbreaking. You will understandably want answers, justice, and compensation for what a negligent third-party did to your loved one and your entire family’s wellbeing. You are probably wondering how much you could receive through a wrongful death claim or lawsuit that ends in your favor.
Unfortunately, the average settlement amount for a wrongful death lawsuit can’t be accurately predicted. Every case is comprised of unique factors, from the cause of death and the pre-accident health of the deceased to the income they made at work and the relevant insurance policy caps. Although there is no accurate way to calculate the average settlement amount for a wrongful death claim, you can probably safely assume it will be worth at least five-figures in pain and suffering damages alone.
Factors That Change a Wrongful Death Claim’s Value
As mentioned, each wrongful death claim is unique because many details go into it, which can all affect its value. To try to get a rough idea of what your wrongful death claim could be worth, you should start looking into the various factors that comprise it.
Five of the biggest factors of a wrongful death claim that can change its value are:
- Income: How much money the deceased made on average in a year can dramatically affect the value of a wrongful death claim if your state allows you to claim wages that they likely would have made had they not been fatally injured by the defendant. For example, a preeminent surgeon would probably make a much greater annual income than a retail store clerk.
- Pre-accident health: The overall health of the deceased before the fatal accident or incident is crucial, too. Wrongful death claims for people who are chronically ill or elderly – especially when considering octogenarians and older – are often valued lower by insurance companies and courts. The idea is that they had a “less enjoyable” life due to their health conditions or advanced age. This arguably offensive concept can sometimes be countered by an experienced wrongful death attorney, though.
- Final medical treatments: In most wrongful death cases, the plaintiffs can demand compensation for the medical treatments used to try to save the deceased’s life or make their final hours more comfortable. Depending on what and how much care was needed, the value of a claim can increase or decrease noticeably.
- Insurance caps: Insurance is at the root of a civil injury claim, including wrongful death claims. Most of the time, insurance policy caps will limit how much can be provided to plaintiffs, regardless of the actual extent of the damage done. Wrongful death attorneys know how to explore insurance policies to find as many that can apply to the situation, potentially maximizing the recovery available.
- Liability: Last but certainly not least, liability plays a huge factor in wrongful death claim payouts. In many states, the amount of damage that can be paid to the plaintiffs will be reduced by the deceased’s liability for their own passing. For example, if someone was texting and driving when hit by a drunk driver, and they were found to be 20% liable for the accident, then the court might reduce any award by 20%. In other states, people who are 51% liable for their own injuries cannot sue for damages at all. In other states still, even just 1% liability is enough to bar a civil injury claim from being filed against the defendants. Your loved one’s liability for what happened is a huge factor in the value of the wrongful death claim you can file in their name later, so it is important to have a legal professional investigate liability thoroughly.
Do you have questions about what compensation you might be able to secure through a wrongful death claim in Ohio? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Murray & Murray in Sandusky for help. During a free initial consultation, we can discuss the key details of your claim, help you determine if it is one worth pursuing, and what you should do next if it is.