If a person dies unnaturally, such as after a workplace injury or due to elder abuse, their family has a right to compensation for lost income and pain and suffering. Many times compensation can be awarded as a structured settlement.
Wrongful death claims occur when a person is killed due to another party’s negligence or intentional harm. Wrongful death suits seek to help the victim’s surviving loved ones with compensation to cover funeral expenses, medical expenses, damages from lost finances wages, and pain and suffering. Repayment from a wrongful death lawsuit is commonly disbursed as a structured settlement.
Structured settlements are often distributed as repayment for personal and financial loss from personal injury lawsuits, including wrongful death and medical malpractice claims. A structured settlement is a secure financial tool that distributes a steady income stream to alleviate financial debt and provide financial stability to plaintiffs and their families.
More than 190,000 people die each year as a result of wrongful death circumstances.
Wrongful death suits include a number of fatal circumstances such as:
To be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, a person must have suffered damages as a result of the victim’s death. Those who file for wrongful death are also referred to as “real parties in interest.” Typically the claimant would be the person in charge of the victim’s assets and estate, but allowable circumstances vary from one state to the next.
“Real parties in interest” can include:
Prior to filing a wrongful death suit, the real parties in interest must follow the necessary steps to prove the claim is valid and to ensure they receive full repayment for their losses. Skipping steps can ultimately affect the success of the case.
Claimants filing a wrongful death lawsuit must:
Outside of proving these four elements, experts recommend hiring a lawyer to guide you in your case. While there are some lawsuits you can handle alone, wrongful death claims can become complex. Take the time to find the right legal representation to support you through this journey and to ensure you receive the most positive outcome from such an unfortunate circumstance.
It is also important to know your state’s statute of limitations. Wrongful death claims typically need to be filed within two years from the date of death, but states vary. Pursuing a case after the statute of limitations has passed could prevent you from taking any legal action and could cause you to forfeit any right to compensation.
Many wrongful death cases settle before reaching a trial. Defendants may choose to negotiate terms outside of court to avoid negative publicity and media coverage, or the claimants may want to avoid unnecessary emotional strain from an ongoing trial.
For that reason, there are two main settling options for negotiations conducted outside of court:
When settling outside of court, it is common for the plaintiff to receive a lump sum payment. With a lump sum, the victim’s family receives a full payout for emotional and financial losses. A full payout allows families to pay larger medical bills and legal fees up front, in addition to eliminating financial debt. This payout options guarantees full freedom and flexibility with the payment received.
Structured settlement payments can mimic the lost income of the victim and therefore better support loved ones over time than a lump-sum payment.
Alternatively, some settlements instead result in a structured settlement agreement. Receiving structured settlement payments may help to pay for ongoing medical fees, mortgage payments and larger financial debt. A structured settlement guarantees a consistent income stream of monthly or yearly payments.
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Although a structured settlement disburses ongoing payments, it lacks the flexibility of a lump sum payout. Once you agree to the terms of the structured settlement contract, it can be difficult, if possible at all, to change it. If financial needs ever change, you will be unable to alter the payment schedule, the amount disbursed, the frequency of payments or any other details.