When you receive word that a loved one passed away, your mind is probably far from money. This kind of news is heartbreaking, and you’ll want to focus on healing. Unfortunately, medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost income make it difficult to focus on anything other than money. When this happens, many people begin to explore the possibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. One of the most common questions we receive is, “How much can you sue for wrongful death?” We cover all this and more in the following sections.
At Curcio Law Offices, we understand that you’re going through an extremely difficult time. We also understand that many people find comfort in seeking accountability and compensation for their loss. Every case is different. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, you may learn more about how a Chicago wrongful death attorney could assess your case. This helps you have a better sense of what to anticipate. To schedule your free consultation, please call 312-321-1111 today, or fill out our online intake form.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If a person dies as a result of another’s wrongdoing or carelessness, the family or survivors may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This sort of litigation seeks restitution for the damages suffered by the survivors. Lost companionship, lost earnings, and burial expenditures are just a few examples of the sorts of losses that might occur.
When a victim who might have properly filed a personal injury claim against another party dies as a result of the defendant’s improper acts, wrongful death lawsuits may emerge. This can happen in a variety of ways, including the ones listed below.
An Intentional Killing
You can file a wrongful death lawsuit if someone murders someone else on purpose. Victims’ relatives may also file civil cases alleging wrongful death against the defendant. Separate from the criminal case, the wrongful death case is a civil matter.
In cases where a doctor fails to provide the appropriate standard of care for their patient and they die as a result, survivors or family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In these cases, we recommend seeking help from a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
You can also file a wrongful death lawsuit if a person dies as a consequence of an automobile accident. This is true when investigators discover that the driver who caused the accident was negligent behind the wheel. Driving while drunk, not observing traffic regulations, and dangerous driving are all examples of driving negligence.
How to file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
As with many other lawsuits, there are several necessary elements to have before bringing a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Someone’s negligence or intent to cause harm resulted in another person’s death.
- Monetary damages exist for the surviving family members that relate to their loved one’s death.
- A personal representative for the deceased’s estate exists.
You must bring a wrongful death lawsuit within the time limits set out in the state’s statute of limitations in which the person died. However, if an inquiry into the death does not identify the cause of action until later, you may submit a claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a loved one dies as a result of another person’s legal wrongdoing, you may be able to file a wrongful death case. A driver in a car accident, a bartender who provided alcohol to a person who subsequently drove, a doctor or medical professional, or a company owner who neglected to maintain their property, among others, are examples of at-fault parties.
Wrongful death laws differ from state to state. Typically, state statutes specify who is eligible to claim for wrongful death and set restrictions on the amount of damages that can be awarded. These sorts of litigation were created with the intention of providing financial assistance to orphans and widows.
Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are filed on behalf of the beneficiaries by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If there are no beneficiaries, the personal representative can file a case to collect just the costs of medical care, burial arrangements, and estate administration. A personal representative is someone nominated in a will by the deceased to manage their inheritance after they pass away.
If there is no will, the court will select someone to fill the position, such as the spouse or another family member. If the personal representative fails to make a claim for damages within six months of the decedent’s death, the spouse, parents, or children may sue on behalf of all the survivors.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
Two main options exist for wrongful death settlement payouts: structured settlements and lump-sum payouts. We outline these below.
- Structured settlements: For death claim payouts, structured settlements are a possibility. In a wrongful death suit, a structured settlement distributes any damages granted to the deceased’s family members over time. This sort of payment provides ongoing support (typically in the form of monthly payments) over a longer length of time, but it eliminates the possibility to pay off huge debts in one lump sum. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to modify the parameters of a structured settlement once all parties have agreed on them.
- Lump-sum payouts: It is fairly common for a plaintiff to get a lump-sum payout of the judgment amount when a lawsuit is resolved out of court. The victim’s family will get full payment of the damages awarded, including all financial losses and agreed-upon pain and suffering compensation, if the case is settled in a lump-sum settlement. A lump sum payment will help families to pay any major medical expenses and legal fees up front, as well as wipe off any financial debt that has accumulated as a result of a loved one’s death.
How Long Does It Take to Settle Wrongful Death Claims?
Every wrongful death and personal injury case is different. While some personal injury or wrongful death claims settle quickly—even in a few months—others might take anywhere from one to four years to conclude. Even if your case does not go to trial, it takes time to settle. This happens because we perform a thorough investigation of your case.
Many insurance companies are eager about moving through with a rapid settlement because they know it is in their best interests. This holds true especially when it comes to wounded plaintiffs who may not have found the entire extent of their ailments, especially those that are slower to emerge. The danger is that you will incur extra medical and/or rehabilitative expenditures in the future that will not be covered by the settlement.
Once an agreement has been reached, the entire settlement procedure can take weeks. Consequently, the entire process can take at least a month to complete. This includes the processing of all necessary papers and the distribution of cash.
Average Wrongful Death Settlement
Wrongful death settlements often range from $500,000 to over $1 million. A typical wrongful death compensation is determined by the facts of the case. Your settlement may be higher or lower than the national average. Each wrongful death case has its own, distinct value. This is determined by the facts of the case and the applicable legislation. Below, we list the common factors that affect the settlement value for these cases.
- Medical expenses for the victim
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost financial support that the deceased provided
- Household services that the deceased provided
- Health and age of the victim
- Financial needs of the survivors
- Whether or not fault existed in the case
- Whether or not it is appropriate to apply punitive damages
Contact Curcio Law Offices Today
At Curcio Law Offices, we’re committed to taking the weight of a stressful situation off your shoulders. We understand that you’re not only dealing with a complicated case. You’re also dealing with the loss of a loved one. That’s a lot to handle for any person. Our compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorneys in Chicago are here to advocate on your behalf. If you’d like to schedule your free consultation with us, please call 312-321-1111 today. You can also fill out our online intake form.