There is no average wrongful death settlement or verdict amount because each case is different.
Let’s start by discussing the ranges we typically see in wrongful death cases and what affects the payout for the case.
Make sure to read the whole article to understand why you should not trust online wrongful death calculators to get a potential estimate of a wrongful death settlement amount. To maximize the value of your case and get the highest payout you should consult an attorney.
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Is There an Average Wrongful Death Settlement?
Some wrongful death cases settle for ten’s of million of dollars while others may settle for under a million. Unfortunately, there is no “average or typical” settlement amount. Here is why.
No two legal cases are exactly alike, so there is no way to compare cases to each other. Some cases go to trial while others are settled before the trial.
At trial there can be a lot of unknowns. That is why when people ask us what is the average payout in a wrongful death suit, we have to tell them there is no real way of knowing.
The amount of compensation you can receive will depend on a variety of factors, so let’s analyze them.
While there is no average wrongful death settlement, GJEL Accident Attorneys has recovered over $950 Million Dollars for our clients killed in accidents. You can view examples of our wrongful death awards and settlements here.
Here is everything you need to know from our top rated wrongful death attorneys.
What is a Wrongful Death Settlement?
A wrongful death settlement is a legal agreement reached between the parties involved in a wrongful death lawsuit. When someone dies as a result of another person’s negligent or wrongful actions, the surviving family members may have the right to seek compensation for their loss.
This compensation can come in the form of a settlement, which is an agreement reached between the parties involved in the lawsuit. In a wrongful death settlement, the party responsible for the death agrees to pay a certain amount of money to the surviving family members in exchange for the dismissal of the lawsuit.
Calculate How Much Money You Have Lost or Stand To Lose
It might seem awkward to think of money when thinking about the death of a loved one.
After all, no amount of money to replace the loss of a spouse or child. Nevertheless, California law allows family members to receive compensation for certain financial losses, such as:
● The value of household services. For example, your wife might have cooked and done laundry. After her death, you need to hire someone else to do these tasks. You can receive compensation to pay for these new expenses.
● Future financial support. If you relied on your loved one for monetary support, then their death is a heavy blow to your finances. You can receive compensation equal to the amount of financial support you reasonably were expecting to receive.
● Funeral and burial expenses.
● The loss of gifts or benefits that you would have received had your loved one lived.
Calculating these economic losses is not easy. No one really knows what type of work your loved one would have done in the future or how much you would have received.
Nevertheless, you can estimate the amount of financial support you would have received by looking at your loved one’s age, education, experience, and work history.
The estate can also bring a survival action and receive compensation for medical expenses incurred before death, as well as the pain and suffering your loved one endured in his or her final days.
Analyze Your Intangible Losses
California wrongful death law recognizes the emotional devastation that family members feel after a loved one has died.
Because of this, the law allows you to receive compensation for a variety of emotional losses, including:
● Loss of affection
● Loss of moral support
● Loss of guidance
● Loss of attention
● Loss of companionship
● Loss of sexual relationship
These losses are very real. However, they are harder to calculate because there is no receipt or bill that identifies their value. Instead, you and your Bay Area wrongful death attorney will need to consider how you can present proof of these intangible losses.
Depending on the circumstances, you might receive as much in compensation for these intangible losses as you do for the loss of services and future income—or even more.
Our Wrongful Death Case Results Speak for Themselves
GJEL has established itself as the “go to” firm in California for wrongful death lawsuits. We understand what you will need to prove to be successful in your case, and we are skilled at tracking down the evidence needed to prevail.
Our skilled California wrongful death attorneys have years of experience negotiating favorable settlements for our clients that fully compensate them for their future economic losses as well as for their emotional distress.
No two cases are alike, and we can’t promise any result.
Nevertheless, we believe that the following settlements testify to our experience and skill in this field:
● $13.6 million jury verdict for wrongful death of a spouse
● $11.7 million award for a traffic wrongful death case
● $10.6 million settlement for a death caused by a defective product
● $10.8 million for a wrongful death caused by defective tires
● $4.5 million for a wrongful death caused by a car accident
● $4 million verdict for the wrongful death of a child
These are only some of our favorable results we have obtained on behalf of our clients. Confidentiality agreements prevent us from discussing others, but you can view a larger list of our wrongful death settlements here.
Factors that Might Reduce Your Wrongful Death Settlement Amount
In some situations, you might receive less than you expect in a wrongful death settlement, but there are some easy-to-understand reasons for this.
For example, your loved one might have contributed to their own accident. Not every case is black and white, and it is possible for victims to be negligent.
As an example: your loved one might not have used a turn signal while riding a bicycle. A commercial truck following your loved one might have run straight into them because the truck driver was not expecting your loved one to stop.
In this situation, your loved one bears some of the blame for the collision that killed them. As a result, the amount you receive in a settlement will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if you estimate that you would receive $3 million in a settlement but your loved one was 50% at fault for the accident, then you will likely receive only $1.5 million.
Other reasons you receive a smaller settlement include:
● You wait too long. California gives family members only two years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death action. If you miss this deadline, you can expect to receive no money in a settlement.
● You don’t hire an experienced attorney. Wrongful death lawsuits are not like other cases, presenting unique legal and factual hurdles. You need someone experienced in this field who understands the law from top to bottom in order to maximize the amount you receive.
Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxed?
The taxation of the award depends greatly on where you’re located and the circumstances of the recovery.
Click here to read our full article on whether or not Wrongful Death cases are taxable in California.
Why Wrongful Death Settlement Calculators Don’t Work
Although you may be tempted to use a wrongful death settlement calculator, you will find that they do not work and will not be accurate in estimating a potential settlement.
This is because the factors of each case are unique such as who might be liable to pay the damages, what the deceased party earned, and more.
These wrongful death settlement and recovery calculators are typically just used to get your contact information.
Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts
The amount you may recover depends greatly on the facts of your case. GJEL has recovered over $950 Million dollars for our clients, but past performance do not predict a future outcome. To learn more about typical wrongful death payout & settlement amounts read our full article here.
How a settlement is distributed after a Wrongful Death case is reserved for parties that have standing. Learn more about who is entitled to a wrongful death settlement here.
Should You Settle Your Case or Go To Trial?
Unfortunately this answer depends on the facts of your case. Many times insurance companies will try to settle a case for less than it’s worth. If they cannot agree on fair compensation we will take the case to trial.
Who does the settlement money go to?
In California, the distribution of wrongful death settlement funds is governed by the state’s wrongful death statutes. These statutes outline the process for distributing settlement funds to the beneficiaries of the deceased person’s estate.
According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death action are the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and any other children of the decedent who are dependent on the decedent for support or services. If there is no surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, the settlement funds will be distributed to the decedent’s surviving parents or, if neither parent is living, to the decedent’s siblings or other heirs.
The settlement funds will be distributed in proportion to the loss each beneficiary has suffered as a result of the decedent’s death. This may take into account the financial contributions that the decedent made to the beneficiary’s support, as well as the loss of love, companionship, and emotional support that the beneficiary has suffered as a result of the decedent’s death.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct, you may have a wrongful death case. At GJEL Accident Attorneys, we are here to help you navigate the legal process and seek justice for your loved one.
Our experienced attorneys understand the emotional and financial toll that a wrongful death can take on a family. We will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your loss. We have a proven track record of success in achieving substantial wrongful death lawsuit settlements, with the average settlement amount being significant.
If you think you may have a wrongful death case, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Our compassionate attorneys will provide you with the guidance and support you need during this difficult time. Together, we can fight for justice and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Contact us today to get started.
Here are some of our recent wrongful death settlements and verdicts.
Talk to our Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
After the death of a loved one, it is normal to feel depressed, angry, and worried about your future. This is where we come in.
At GJEL, our Northern California wrongful death attorneys will take over the case and begin building a claim for compensation, allowing you to spend time with your family. Instead of worrying about court deadlines and insurance adjuster forms, you can focus on what matters most: your loved ones and the memories of your lost love.
To start the process, please reach out to us today. We are only a phone call away and are happy to answer any questions that you have. To schedule your free initial consultation, please call 1-866-290-1656 or submit an online message. GJEL has achieved award winning wrongful death settlement amounts
This post was written by Attorney Andy Gillin. Last updated 03/10/23