Wrongful Death Settlements
If your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence, the last thing you may be considering is filing a lawsuit. Your loved one’s life was priceless, and attempting to place a monetary value on it is challenging emotionally and legally.
However, when a person loses their life due to the recklessness, carelessness, or negligence of another person, there are often unexpected expenses such as funeral costs and medical bills. On top of that, you could be eligible to recover damages for pain and anguish suffered by your loved one before their death, or by your family afterward.
Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Settlements
There are two types of damages available in wrongful death settlements: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are tangible damages that are easier to calculate. Economic damages may include costs related to the accident, including, but not limited to:
- Funeral costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Transportation costs
This is not an exhaustive list of economic damages you may be entitled to. You might benefit from speaking to an attorney about additional compensation you could recover.
Non-economic damages are intangible damages that are more challenging to calculate because it is difficult to place an exact monetary value on these losses. For example, some of the types of non-economic damages that are recoverable in wrongful death settlements include:
- Pain and suffering of the victim before their death
- Loss of future wages
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of comfort, instruction, services, guidance, support, counsel, and training for the children of the victim
Determining what types of damages you may recover from a wrongful death lawsuit is complicated. Instead of going it alone, consider hiring a lawyer to help with the logistics while you focus on grieving.
Wrongful Death Settlement Averages
There is no way to provide an exact average or expectation when it comes to wrongful death settlements. Every accident is different, and every person’s life is different. For example, in Missouri, if a wrongful death suit goes to trial, the jury will be instructed by a judge to determine the value of life by Supreme Court of Missouri Jury Instruction 5.01.
Often, attorneys will be able to establish a list of both economic and non-economic damages that relate to the wrongful death claim to provide for the jury. However, many wrongful death cases never make it to trial, and instead, family members are provided with a settlement that everyone agrees on outside of court.
Wrongful Death Settlement Options
There are several ways a wrongful death settlement process may occur, including mediation and arbitration. In both cases, the victim’s family may seek the advice of legal counsel to help ensure that their rights are protected.
An insurance company, the defendant, or both will meet with the victim’s family or their attorney, along with a neutral third-party professional mediator in an attempt to determine fair compensation for the wrongful death claim. Mediation can provide unique and new recommendations regarding settlement options for a wrongful death case that benefits all parties.
There are cases in which the neutral third-party listens to both sides of a wrongful death case, and then makes a binding and final verdict, instead of the two sides agreeing on one. Consider visiting with an attorney before making the decision to go through either the mediation or arbitration process to determine which is best for you.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death
You have the right to file a claim for wrongful death on behalf of your loved one if they died due to someone else’s negligence. However, there is a deadline by which you may bring the case before the court in most states, called a statute of limitations.
For example, the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Missouri is three years from the date your loved one died, not from the date of the accident, according to Missouri Revisor of Statutes 537.100.
Many people believe this is a long period of time; however, wrongful death claims are legally complex and complicated to build. A wrongful death attorney may be able to help you, and ensure that you do not miss any deadlines to bring a claim on behalf of your deceased loved one.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer in St. Louis
If someone else’s negligence caused the death of a loved one, you have the right to pursue a wrongful death settlement on their behalf. Contact a team member with Schultz & Myers, LLC at 314-444-4444. Let us help you get the justice you deserve and hold the person responsible for your loved one’s death accountable.