Losing a loved one in an incident that could have been prevented can leave family members angry, heartbroken and confused. While survivors grieve the death of their loved one, often, they are also looking for answers and searching for justice or a sense of closure. They are also wondering how to deal with the financial challenges that often arise with the loss of a family member. In addition, they may wish to hold the at-fault party accountable and prevent future tragedies from occurring. These are all reasons why a grieving family may resort to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
A natural question that crops up during such a time is the amount of compensation family members are able to receive for their tremendous losses and the average Pennsylvania wrongful death settlement that may be available to them. An experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer who has had success representing families that have lost loved ones, will be able to advise victims’ families regarding their legal rights and options.
What is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement?
A wrongful death is one that has been caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. It could be caused by the negligence of a drunk or distracted driver who causes a fatal auto accident. The fatal injuries may have occurred as the result of medical negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse or other hospital staff. While each of these cases is tragic, every single case will be evaluated by a team of individuals including insurance companies, attorneys and the courts in order to determine what it is worth or how much the survivors should receive in monetary support.
In order to find the defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff and that the duty was breached. Plaintiffs must also prove that the breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of death and that the death caused damages that the plaintiff is attempting to recover.
Some wrongful death cases go to trial and are decided by a jury or judge. However, a majority of wrongful death lawsuits are settled out of court. The amount of compensation that surviving family members can recover is based on a number of factors including:
- The type of accident that caused the victim’s fatal injuries.
- The circumstances of the death.
- The age and earning potential of the victim.
- Whether or not the victim survived for a lengthy period of time after the accident occurred. This means he or she could have incurred additional medical bills.
- The limits of the insurance policy held by the at-fault party.
Wrongful death settlements can range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the circumstances of the incident and the other factors listed above. As Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys, we don’t guarantee any type of result to a client. This is because over the years we’ve handled wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania, each case was decided on a unique set of facts. The outcome of a case and the wrongful death settlement depends on the legal issues involved, expert witnesses, juries and courts.
Factors That Might Affect Compensation
Here are some of the factors that might have an impact on the settlement amount of your Pennsylvania wrongful death case:
- Damages sustained: The value or worth of a wrongful death case will depend on the plaintiffs and the damages that can be recovered. For example, the wrongful death settlement of an unemployed teenager might be drastically different from that of a 42-year-old married accountant who is a father of three young children. In the latter case, the decedent’s wife and each child may have individual wrongful death claims for the loss of their husband and father. In such cases, loved ones can also seek compensation for loss of future income, lost benefits and loss of love, companionship and mentoring.
- Insurance coverage: Most wrongful death settlements hinge on how much insurance coverage the at-fault party has. In a majority of case, realistically, the maximum amount of money that can be collected (regardless of the injury) is the amount of the insurance available to cover your claims. This is the case whether the responsible party is an individual or a company. If the extent of damages is much more than the amount of insurance coverage, you may have to go to court, obtain a jury verdict and then try to collect the amount from the defendant’s personal assets.
- Evidence: Your wrongful death case is more likely to settle when the evidence you have is strong. For example, if you lost a loved one in a DUI collision caused by someone who was on the job, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the driver and his or her employer. If the driver has been charged or convicted of the offense and it has been established that he or she was on the job at the time, then, the evidence is extremely strong and the defendant may choose to settle the civil wrongful death claim as opposed to taking it to a jury trial. Please remember that there doesn’t have to be a conviction or even charges filed for your wrongful death case to be successful. Your attorney can help collect and compile critical evidence that could help bolster your claim.
- Experienced lawyer: The caliber of wrongful death attorney you hire will undoubtedly have an impact on your settlement amount. A lawyer who has successfully handled many different types of wrongful death cases will be more likely to well versed in the nuances of the law. The knowledge and skill your lawyer displays will affect your wrongful death settlement.
The experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys at KaplunMarx PLLC are always prepared to go the extra mile for our clients who have suffered the ultimate loss. We understand that you are going through what is probably the most difficult time of your life. We know how these situations can be emotionally and financially devastating for families. We will work and fight hard to help you secure maximum compensation for your significant losses. Call us today for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.