Maybe a negligent driver caused your loved one’s death and you’re curious about compensation for death in car accident. A fatal car accident often causes an immense financial burden for the family members left behind. Because of this, many factors go into determining the exact amount of compensation that surviving loved ones can receive in a wrongful death case. Below, we explain the complexities of determining fair compensation after a fatal car accident.
If your loved one’s death has caused you immense physical, emotional, and financial distress, you should seek legal representation from Chicago’s best wrongful death law firm. Call us today at 312-321-1111 for a free consultation.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a type of civil action for a person who dies as a result of someone else’s negligence. Generally, family members of the deceased person will file a wrongful death suit in order to seek compensation and justice on behalf of their loved one.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
There are many types of wrongful death claims that our legal team handles on a daily basis.
While the odds of dying in a car accident aren’t very high, the most common types of wrongful death lawsuits involve:
- Motor vehicle accidents caused by a drunk driver or negligent driver
- Semi-truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Aviation accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Defective products
Illinois Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claim
In Illinois, family members have 2 years from the date of their loved one’s death to file their wrongful death case. If they wait to file after the two-year mark, they are at risk of having their case dismissed. In serious matters like this, it’s best to act quickly.
Is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth More Than a Personal Injury Claim?
The answer to this question varies on a case-by-case basis. In both wrongful death cases and personal injury cases, the victims and the loved ones greatly suffer in more ways than one. So the answer here boils down to this: did the victims and families suffer more types of damages in a wrongful death case than the victims and families involved in the personal injury case? Oftentimes, the answer is yes. In many personal injury cases, the victim is able to gradually recover from their injuries and ultimately keep their life. The victim and their family don’t suffer the extreme physical, psychological, and financial toll of an unexpected death. So even if the severity of the victim’s injuries makes the personal injury case value pretty high, in most cases it will still have a lesser case value than a fatal car accident, for example.
Factors That Affect Financial Compensation for Fatal Accidents
Generally speaking, the more damages that a victim or family member suffers in a case, the higher the case value will be. Listed below are just a few factors that affect fatal accident settlements.
Possibly the biggest factor that affects settlement amounts in car accident cases is the severity of injuries suffered. A victim in a fatal auto accident suffers the most severe injury of all: death. That fact alone ramps up a case value. But sometimes, fatal car accident victims don’t die immediately. Some of them live for several hours or days with catastrophic injuries. Juries often take this into account when determining appropriate compensation in wrongful death lawsuits.
Medical expenses are also a major factor in determining wrongful death case value. As previously stated, not all wrongful death victims die immediately from their accidents. Many medical professionals use “extraordinary measures” in an attempt to save their lives. If the injured party still dies despite these extraordinary measures, the surviving spouse or surviving children are generally left with a crippling amount of medical debt. Compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit is often enough to pay off this debt.
Maybe the wrongful death victim was the breadwinner of their household. Without this breadwinner in the picture, the family left behind will naturally suffer extreme financial consequences. An experienced attorney will take this factor into consideration when calculating the total case value.
Pain and Suffering
If the fatal car accident victim stayed alive for several hours or days before they eventually died from their injuries, it’s safe to assume that they suffered immense physical pain and suffering. Attorneys take this factor into consideration when calculating the financial value of a case.
A death is physically and emotionally traumatic. This is especially true when a loved one dies in a horrific accident. The victim’s family is left behind to not only grieve the loss of someone they loved and relied on, but also to cope with the financial consequences the wrongful death accident created. Many family members suffer years of mental anguish due to their loved one’s wrongful death. While no amount of compensation can take away the grief, it can take away some financial burdens. Mental anguish certainly raises a wrongful death suit value.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is when a spouse of a catastrophically injured or deceased person can’t provide the same love, physical care, emotional support, comfort, or intimate relations as they could prior to a major accident. This factor can affect case value for both personal injury and wrongful death cases.
In personal injury cases, the injured spouse may have survived the accident, but that doesn’t mean they can provide the same level of love, care, support, and intimacy as they did before the accident. In many cases, the non-injured spouse has to be a full-time caretaker because the injured spouse suffered permanent disability from their accident.
Meanwhile, in wrongful death cases, the surviving spouse has absolutely no love, care, support, and intimacy because their partner did not survive the accident. Again, no amount of money can appropriately compensate for the psychological pain that accompanies the loss of consortium. But even still, loss of consortium after an accident significantly raises case value.
Funeral Expenses and Burial Expenses
Burial and funeral costs are incredibly expensive. Surviving family members often have to pay thousands of dollars for the funeral and burial alone. These costs can add to the already crushing financial burden of medical debt. If driver negligence (or any other type of negligence) cut your loved one’s life short, an experienced attorney will take this into consideration when calculating the total case value.
Another factor that can affect wrongful death verdicts is Illinois’ comparative negligence rule for car accidents. The comparative negligence rule comes into play when two or more drivers share fault in an accident. Basically, each driver’s financial award is reduced by their percentage of fault in the accident.
If your loved one wrongfully died in an accident, the other driver likely shares the majority of the blame in the accident. But still, if an accident reconstructionist or insurance company investigates the car crash and determines that your loved one shares 25% of the blame, their legal team will factor this into the total case value.
How A Wrongful Death Lawyer Calculates Compensation for Death in Car Accident
Economic damages – or the car accident losses that have an obvious monetary value – are easy to calculate. A lawyer or insurance adjuster will just add up the total cost of medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, etc., and come up with a definitive price tag.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are very difficult to calculate because they don’t have a set monetary value. Examples include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. For these types of damages, insurance adjusters and legal teams typically assign a multiplier between 1 and 5 in order to come up with a specific price tag.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Illinois?
In Illinois, there is no cap on punitive damages. These types of damages are occasionally awarded in deadly auto accident cases. Basically, punitive damages serve as an extra punishment for the at-fault driver. If the at-fault party acted so negligently that it resulted in a death, they will have to cough up their own money in order to pay the surviving family members.
What is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement?
Every wrongful death lawsuit is different. This means that every single wrongful death settlement is different in terms of monetary value and how long the car accident settlement will take. So the average wrongful death settlement amount often falls between $500,000 and $1 million.
Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable?
No. The Internal Revenue Code 104(a)(2) states that surviving loved ones will not have to pay taxes for the compensation they receive from a wrongful death lawsuit.
Call Chicago’s Best Wrongful Death Attorneys at Curcio Law Offices Today
Our top-notch Chicago law firm is passionate about fighting for appropriate compensation for death in car accident. We know how much physical, emotional, and financial suffering is involved in every single wrongful death suit. That’s why our experienced attorneys fight tooth and nail for our surviving clients to recover financial compensation for every single type of loss they have suffered in the wake of their loved one’s accident. Call 312-321-1111 to start an attorney-client relationship today. We offer a free case evaluation to all new clients.