Calculating a Wrongful Death Settlement

A lawsuit for wrongful death is a claim for financial compensation that a grieving party files when another party’s carelessness caused the death of their loved one. Anyone could be sued for wrongful death if their actions caused someone to lose their life, including doctors, surgeons, manufacturers, and drivers. Calculating the value of a wrongful death claim, however, is complex. Many variables must be considered, something that’s always best done with the help of financial experts. Each wrongful death case that settles out of court varies exceptionally from one situation to the next, depending on each case’s circumstances. When wrongful death cases fail to reach a settlement and go to trial, the case could produce unequal amounts of damages or a complete dismissal.

Scenarios That Often Lead to Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death cases result when there is evidence that proves a person would not have died if not for the wrongdoing of another. If the person who caused the fatal accident was careless and negligent, what often follows is a wrongful death settlement.

A typical scenario for a wrongful death case is when a surgeon performs on a patient negligently and fails to apply reasonable care in that particular circumstance, which led to the patient’s death. Another common occurrence is when a driver blatantly disobeys traffic laws, and because of that behavior, crashes into and kills a bicyclist or pedestrian, or even another driver.

How are Wrongful Death Values Determined?

You can never put a price on human life. In wrongful death law, putting a financial value on a life that’s been lost is immensely difficult. When this must be calculated, there are factors that are commonly considered to reach a fair amount.

Those factors for the deceased person includes their:

  • Age
  • Dependents’ age and circumstances
  • Income at the time of death
  • Earning capacity
  • Education and training
  • State of health
  • Medical expenses incurred
  • Funeral costs
  • Value of benefits lost

Determining a fair settlement amount using these figures is only an estimate. Each value must be supported and confirmed with factual evidence. Economists and expert witnesses are often called on for their expertise in calculating a settlement amount, considering these factors.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Settlements from a wrongful death case are most times paid out by the insurance provider of the person or entity who is responsible for the death. Many insurance policies have a capped limit. Any wrongful death settlement over that limit must be paid by the individual responsible for the death. If the liable party doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage to pay the amount of the settlement agreement, they must make up the difference personally. Sometimes, the individual must pay the difference along with legal fees accumulated during the process.

Is a Settlement for Wrongful Death Taxable in Florida?

Wrongful death settlements are generally not taxable in Florida, or anywhere in the nation. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not require taxes paid for compensatory damages, which means a payment that’s intended to compensate for the pain and suffering that’s felt because of the loss of life.

Punitive damages, however, are taxable. Punitive damages are damages that are meant to punish the at-fault party for outrageous conduct and deter others from doing the same. When you’re determining the settlement amount in your wrongful death claim, be sure that you have an evident understanding of whether the damages awarded are compensatory or punitive. Having this documented can save a lot of time and grief later on when it’s time to report the settlement amount to the IRS.

Always be sure that you consult with your trusted attorney and accountant before agreeing to anything. Be sure to review any repercussions from the IRS that might come later from any settlement amount before it’s decided upon.

What if I Disagree with the Settlement Amount?

If you disagree with the final settlement amount, you have the option to move the case to trial. During the trial, your attorney will work to prove your right to receive compensation before a judge or jury. That can be risky, however. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted the settlement amount that you expected. Going to trial risks losing the settlement entirely if the judge dismisses the case. On the other hand, you could have a successful trial and be awarded more than what you were seeking. It’s often tough to determine how successful a case will be if brought to trial.

Turn to Orlando’s Trusted Wrongful Death Lawyers for Help

Calculating the value of a wrongful death settlement is extremely complex. If you’ve recently lost a loved one because of the negligent behavior of a doctor, driver, or criminal, then The Umansky Law Firm would like help. Please reach out to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your case with our wrongful death attorneys. We promise that you’ll be treated with compassion and care as we learn the details of your case so we can aggressively fight to bring you and your family justice. 

To speak with our wrongful death settlement attorneys, schedule a free consultation by completing an online contact form, or call us today at (407) 228-3838.