Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settlements Average (All You Need To Know)

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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settlements Average 

It is important for many to have a better understanding of how the wrongful death settlement works when they lose a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful act of another.

Having a basic understanding of how you can value your legal claim and understanding what you can expect as an average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit can help you make more informed decisions.

In any wrongful death case, there may be a potential for the victim’s representatives and family to seek compensation for the legal wrong.

Wrongful death can occur in a variety of circumstances, such as:

  • Car accident
  • Truck accident 
  • Boat accident 
  • Medical malpractice 
  • Professional negligence 
  • Negligence 
  • Recklessness 
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Defective products 
  • Negligent security 
  • Intentional misconduct 
  • Assault and battery
  • Homicide 

There are many reasons why a “wrongful death” lawsuit can be filed where the plaintiff eventually receives a settlement or a positive verdict from the judge or jury.

Anyone looking to better understand their legal rights, possible claims, or settlement value should consult with a qualified wrongful death attorney for legal advice.

This article is intended to give general guidance and should not be considered as legal advice as every case is different, the applicable laws can vary, and the laws may change over time.

What Variables Impact A Wrongful Death Suit Settlement

Typically, wrongful death actions and the associated settlement will depend on several factors that are unique to the case.

Here are some elements that can affect the settlement or verdict in a wrongful death case:

  • The victim’s medical expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Loss of future financial support the victim would have offered his or her family
  • Loss of future household support the victim would have offered his or her family
  • The victim’s age
  • The victim’s health condition 
  • The specific needs of the surviving dependents
  • The attribution of fault 
  • Punitive or exemplary damages 

There may be other factors that may be taken into when evaluating a possible settlement of a wrongful death legal action.

This article is intended to give you general guidance on the matter and every person looking to evaluate a claim or a lawsuit must consult a qualified lawyer or attorney for legal advice.

What Is A Wrongful Death Settlement

A “wrongful death settlement” or “wrongful death lawsuit payout” is an amount of money paid by an at-fault party or insurance company to resolve a personal injury claim when the victim of the personal injury has died.

In essence, when a person suffers a fatal personal injury, his or her family can claim damages for the injuries suffered on behalf of the deceased.

The victim’s family will therefore seek compensation against the responsible party for having caused the death of their loved one.

According to the Journal of Legal Economics, a family may claim wrongful death compensation if the deceased had valid legal grounds to obtain damages for personal injuries if he or she was alive.

When we talk about the wrongful death “settlement”, we are generally referring to the resolution of a civil lawsuit or complaint filed by the estate or legal representatives of the deceased victim.

How Much Is An Average Settlement

There are no cookie-cutter answers to give you here.

Every wrongful death accident is unique as the circumstances can vary and the applicable laws can vary.

For example, a Tampa Bay law firm indicates on its website that an average wrongful death settlement ranges from $500,000 to over $1,000,000.

The Florida law firm states that “the average wrongful death settlement in Florida is approximately $500,000 or more”.

A law firm in California states that it’s not possible to give a precise average for a wrongful death case as no two cases are alike.

However, they list their own accomplishments by publishing the settlements they received in various cases such as $13.6 million jury verdict for the wrongful death of a spouse, $11.7 million award for traffic wrongful death case, or $10.6 million settlement for a death caused by a defective product.

How To Get A Fair Settlement Compensation 

A person representing a victim who may have lost his or her life due to another’s wrongdoing must follow certain legal steps to eventually get a fair settlement.

Here is a list of steps giving you a high-level perspective of what must be done:

  • Gather the victim’s documents with regards to the circumstances of the accident or legal wrongdoing
  • Gather the victim’s medical record prior to the victim’s death
  • Obtain medical reports as to the cause of the victim’s death 
  • Identify applicable insurance companies that may need to be involved 
  • Consult with a wrongful death attorney to determine if your case has merits, how much can be claimed, and how much settlement can be expected

When you consult with the best wrongful death lawyer or a law firm and decide that you will want to pursue the wrongful death lawsuit further, your lawyer will generally look at:

  • Verifying the jurisdiction applicable to the case so the case can be filed before the right court
  • Verify that you have legal standing to be able to represent the deceased victim
  • Value your wrongful death case and determine how much you can legally claim 
  • Draft the wrongful death complaint based on the applicable court rules 
  • Verify the evidence of the case to ensure that you have a strong case 
  • Build a strong case to maximize the chances of a settlement 
  • Negotiate a settlement that is fair and appropriate for the case 

How To Calculate Wrongful Death Settlements

Many want to know what is the “average” or “typical” settlement or jury verdict they may get in a wrongful death case.

Although it is not possible to give you an exact amount for your specific case, there are ways to look at past court awards and publicly disclosed settlements and try to compare the different variables in those cases to your case.

This exercise should be done by an experienced personal injury lawyer or firm handling wrongful death cases so you can get a professional evaluation of how much your case may be worth.

Let’s look at what variables can affect a settlement first.

What Variables Impact A Wrongful Death Suit Settlement Amount

Typically, wrongful death actions and the associated settlement will depend on several factors that are unique to the case.

Here are some elements that can affect the settlement or verdict in a wrongful death case:

  • The victim’s medical expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Victim’s future earning potential 
  • Loss of future financial support the victim would have offered his or her family
  • Loss of future household support the victim would have offered his or her family
  • The victim’s age
  • The victim’s health condition 
  • Victim’s career path, education, income 
  • Number of dependents left behind 
  • The specific needs of the surviving dependents
  • The attribution of fault 
  • Punitive or exemplary damages 
  • Available insurance policy coverages and limits 

There may be other factors that may be taken into when evaluating a possible settlement of a wrongful death legal action.

How To Calculate Your Damages

Calculating damages or the compensation a person may obtain in a wrongful death suit can vary from one case to another and also will be largely dependent on the applicable laws.

To calculate the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit, here is a general approach that you can take (although you must verify with a licensed attorney):

  • Calculate your economic damages
  • Calculate your noneconomic damages

We refer to these damages as compensatory damages.

Economic damages are actual financial losses that you can prove using receipts, statements, and account transactions, such as:

  • Household services to help with the household 
  • Future financial support needed 
  • Funeral and burial expenses 
  • Medical expenses 
  • Surgery costs and cost the victim incurred prior to his or her death

The next step is to look at the noneconomic losses that are intangible in nature, such as:

  • Loss of affection
  • Loss of moral support
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of sexual relationship
  • Loss of consortium

Depending on the applicable laws, noneconomic damages may be awarded, awarded with a cap, or not at all. 

If you are eligible to claim noneconomic damages, since they are harder to prove in court, you should consult with a lawyer to see how to handle this aspect of your claim.

What Can Reduce Your Wrongful Death Settlement Amount

Just like any legal case, you may win some and lose some.

Not every case is perfect where all aspects of the case can be proven in an impeccable manner.

There are instances where the plaintiff will not get the amount he or she anticipated.

If the victim contributed to his or her own accident, the settlement value may be diminished or even entirely dismissed.

This makes sense as legal liability comes from “wrongdoing”.

If the victim was responsible for the wrongdoing that ended up taking his or her life, it will be harder to attribute that wrongdoing to another person.

For example, if a person violated traffic laws resulting in a deadly collision, the family may not be able to receive compensation if they are unable to prove legal grounds to blame the other party.

In certain cases, unfortunately, the family waits too long before filing a claim and due to the operation of the law (statute of limitations), their deadline to file a claim expires.

In that case, the family will completely miss out on any settlement amounts even with a very strong case.

Is There A Wrongful Death Settlement Calculator

Many wonder how much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?

Are there calculators that help calculate the average settlement for wrongful death?

There are no general calculators that you can find providing you with precise calculations of what you can expect in a particular lawsuit.

Online calculators can be used to get a general sense of the possible claim but you must bear in mind that the laws can change and certain aspects of your case may not be captured by the calculator.

Just like you reading this article to get an overall basic understanding of how wrongful death settlements work and the average settlement you can expect, you should use calculators with a general perspective.

At the end of the day, you should consult with a legal professional to evaluate your wrongful death claim and see what is the possible settlement or verdict you can potentially achieve.

Is Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable

According to the IRS, compensatory damages are non-taxable.

In other words, if you paid for medical expenses, the recovery of medical expenses is not considered a taxable revenue.

However, punitive damages can be subject to taxes.

The reason why punitive damages can be taxed is that the amount received by the victim’s family is over and above the compensatory damages or injuries suffered.

This can be a form of “profit” for the beneficiary.

It’s important to consult with your attorney to have a better understanding of the tax consequences of a settlement so you can then better negotiate a fair settlement. 

If you do not consider the tax impact of a settlement, you may end up settling a case and losing a portion of your settlement in taxes.

Examples of Wrongful Death Case Settlements

Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate the amounts given in the context of wrongful death suit payouts.

For example, in California, a woman having erratic behavior was arrested but not charged with a crime. 

In jail, although the woman was asking for help, no medical attention or care was offered to the woman who ended up committing suicide.

This resulted in a $2,000,000 wrongful death case settlement.

On the higher end of the spectrum, in 2018, three individuals suffered cardiac arrest after receiving certain treatment for dialysis from their dialysis clinic.

The wrongful death settlement amount for this case amounted to $383,500,000.

Another example is when a Los Angeles jury awarded $150,000,000 in damages to a 13-year old girl who witnessed her family die in a car crash on the Southern California freeway.

In Massachusetts, a jury rendered a $32,300,000 verdict providing compensation to the family of a woman who died struck by a car while working inside of a store.

Wrongful Death Settlements Takeaways

How much can you sue for wrongful death?

What is the typical wrongful death settlement that you can expect?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Average Wrongful Death Settlements

  • Wrongful death cases and lawsuits are legal actions filed by the legal representative, estate, or beneficiaries of a person who died due to the wrongful act of another
  • Every “wrongful death” case is unique as the facts are the case will vary, the applicable laws will vary, and the evidence will vary
  • It’s not possible to provide an exact average of wrongful death lawsuit settlement amounts but it’s possible to look at the variables that affect the possible outcome
  • Wrongful death settlements and verdicts will depend on factors such as how much the victim suffered in financial losses before his or her death and how much is the family losing going forward 
  • Compensatory damages compensate for economic damages and the pain and suffering caused by the wrongdoing but in some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded 
Comparative negligence 
Compensatory damages
Contributory negligence
Dangerous drugs 
Insurance claims
Medical malpractice 
Negligence definition 
Personal injury lawyer
Preponderance of evidence 
Premise liability 
Product liability 
Punitive damages
Standard of proof 
Statute of limitations 
Willful negligence 
Wrongful death attorney
Asbestos lawsuit settlement amount 
Boat accident lawsuit settlement 
Car accident lawsuit settlement 
Emotional distress lawsuit settlement 
Maritime accident lawsuit settlement 
Mesothelioma lawsuit settlement 
Motorcycle accident lawsuit settlement 
Offshore accident lawsuit settlement 
Slip and fall lawsuit settlement 
Truck accident lawsuit settlement 
Workers compensation lawsuit settlement


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