How Do Wrongful Death Settlements Work? - Adamson Ahdoot

How Wrongful Deaths Are Settled And Paid Out

Wrongful Death Settlements

Adamson Ahdoot Holds Responsible Parties Accountable and Secures Fair Settlements for Wrongful Death Families

Losing a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Witnessing a person’s natural death is complex. However, when a family member or friend loses their life due to someone else’s negligence or intentional harm, it becomes an incredibly distressing time. Although it may seem like an agonizing process, taking immediate legal action is crucial for the future. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will ensure both your safety and your family’s peace of mind. Not only will you hold the responsible parties accountable for their wrongful actions, but you will also receive substantial wrongful death settlements.

Looking for more information about wrongful death cases? Let us help you. With over a century of combined legal experience, we are a reputable personal injury law firm based in California. Adamson Ahdoot has represented numerous families who have tragically lost loved ones due to negligent accidents.

Rest assured, we will deliver the justice and financial compensation you rightfully deserve. During this difficult time, we will provide you with compassionate guidance and the utmost professionalism. Plus, you won’t have to pay us any fees until we successfully win your case. Contact us today at (800) 310-1606, or submit your inquiry here.

The parents of a wrongful death victim hiring an attorney.

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is defined by the State of California as when a person dies “as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of another person or entity.” This covers many possible eventualities, including car accidents, medical malpractice, or corporate negligence. Wrongful death claims can only be filed by the surviving family, heirs, or executors of the deceased’s estate. Wrongful death lawsuits can only be filed in civil court, regardless of whether other criminal charges are filed.

There are no criminal charges involved in wrongful death settlements, and only damages are paid. There is no possibility of jail time or probation. Also, California law states that wrongful death settlements can only be taken within two years of the event.

How Much Is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement?

Wrongful death settlements are not like other civil lawsuits. Each case is very different from the next. Many factors affect the amount available for a wrongful death claim. These include the lost income of the deceased, funeral or burial expenses, and medical bills leading up to the death.

Claimants may also be able to recover for mental anguish, pain and suffering from the deceased, and loss of consortium. This makes it impossible to give an exact estimate, as the amounts can vary drastically from case to case.

If you’re curious about the details, we’ve compiled a list of the most important elements to consider when deciding whether or not to file a wrongful death claim.

How Are Wrongful Deaths Divided in California?

Only the survivors of the deceased, the executor of the estate, and the inheritors can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Once a claim is filed, California law gives the claimants the first right to decide how to divide the settlement. For example, a spouse or child who was financially dependent would receive significantly more than another inheritor with a claim to the estate.

Distribution of a Wrongful Death Settlement Among Multiple Claimants

But, what if the plaintiffs can’t come to an agreement among themselves? Then, they can choose to mediate with their representative or another third party. This is usually a wrongful death attorney who has experience in personal injury cases. If they still cannot agree on how to divide the settlement, the civil court will be responsible for dividing the settlement. The civil court will most often consider the economic impact – whose future is most affected by the loss of the deceased – in their decision.

For example, a surviving child from a previous marriage may receive more than the deceased’s current spouse. Why? Because there is sufficient evidence that the loss of the parent’s financial and emotional support will have the greatest impact on that child’s life.

This is the least popular option, and often courts are less likely to award higher amounts to claimants who cannot agree. It’s important to present a united front whenever possible, and express that to the insurance company and the court. This shows them that you’re serious about your claim. It will also prevent them from using these disagreements against you – especially if you decide to go to court.

Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable?

Taxes on wrongful death settlements are far more complicated than most other settlement types. Wrongful death settlements fall into two categories: survival actions and wrongful death actions. Survival actions are what the deceased would or could have claimed if they survived, like medical expenses or punitive damages. Wrongful death actions, on the other hand, are for the family and deal with compensation for loss of income, pain, and suffering, as well as funeral/burial expenses. 

Wrongful death actions are not taxable, as they are covered under the California tax code as a recovery of a loss. Since you’re just receiving money that you already would have had if the deceased had lived, this is not considered income. Money received for pain and suffering is also not taxable and is considered compensatory rather than punitive. Punitive damages, or monies the defendant must pay as punishment for their negligent actions, are taxable. Finally, survival actions, while not always taxable, may become taxable under certain laws and definitions of the tax code.

Your personal injury lawyer, or one familiar with cases similar to yours, is necessary to ensure you are receiving proper compensation with a full understanding of the tax codes in California. It is possible to avoid taxes or pay very little, depending on your case and what your particular lawsuit entails. A careful analysis of the damages can be the difference between receiving fair compensation and facing a hefty tax bill.

What Can You Do if You Disagree with the Settlement?  

Of course, there will be times when bringing claims against the offending parties will not result in the desired outcome. Often, the insurance company that covers the at-fault party will pay the claim. These types of insurance companies often have a max payout, which may be less than you or your party hoped for. At this point, if you feel uncomfortable or believe that justice was unfair, you have options.

You can take your claim to court and get a jury trial, although this often leaves so much to chance that many are reluctant to do so. If you have a strong case and the maximum payout is high enough, jury trials can be a worthwhile pursuit. 

Juries consist of ordinary people – they feel the tragedy keenly and want the guilty party to face justice as much as you do. Juries have awarded up to $150 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Trials, however, can be a long and expensive ordeal with no guarantees. Most personal injury lawyers will advise you to avoid them, so you and your representation must be in full agreement before proceeding to this next step. 

Adamson Ahdoot Is Here To Help You

We understand that this is not an easy decision to make at such a difficult time. With years of experience, we know what it takes to fight for what you truly deserve. Our team of skilled attorneys specializes in holding those responsible for wrongful or negligent acts accountable.

Our consultations are always free and completely confidential. We are available 24/7 to assist you. We also provide Spanish-speaking representation. Contact our Spanish Helpline, and we will connect you with the right attorney; language will no longer be a barrier.

With over 100 years of combined legal experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases, contact us today at (800) 310-1606 for a free consultation.

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