With every case as a Tallahassee wrongful death lawyer, there comes a time when I present to my clients the option of settling their case or going to a jury trial. It’s my job to advise my client regarding what I would do if I were in their shoes. I always ask myself the question: which option is in my client’s best interest?
Over the years, I’ve noticed that there is a huge disparity between the values of wrongful death cases. One of the most important factors in determining the outcome of a wrongful death case is the client’s willingness to take it to trial. In general, if my client is ready and willing to go to trial, I am able to negotiate a settlement much more favorable than I can for a client who doesn’t want to go to trial under any circumstances.
How Can an Attorney Maximize a Settlement Amount?
The leverage I have as an attorney that allows me to maximize the case value is the ability and willingness to try the case. Insurance companies and big corporations don’t settle cases because it’s the right thing to do. They settle cases because they want to get out of the case as cheaply as possible.
They don’t offer big money settlements unless they have a credible threat of having to pay more through the jury trial process. My job as your attorney is to build the evidence in the case so that I’m ready to go try it. When the insurance company or corporation sees the evidence and sees that I’m ready to try it and will probably win, they get a lot more serious about reasonable settlement offers.
Why Should You Be Willing to Try Your Case?
I’ve had multiple cases settled after we picked a jury or after we presented a couple of days of evidence. Those settlements are often twice, three times, or several times what the defense had offered before the trial.
There’s no guarantee, but in a wrongful death case where the facts are in your favor, I think it’s wise to be patient and willing to try the case, because the “try your case” mentality maximizes the possibility of a full and fair settlement. And if it doesn’t settle during the trial, you have a high probability of winning a big jury verdict because the evidence is in your favor.
Talk to an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer About Your Wrongful Death Case
If you are considering whether to settle or try your case, I highly recommend you discuss these considerations in detail with your attorney, who is hopefully an experienced wrongful death attorney. Experienced means they have tried to verdict at least one wrongful death case as lead counsel and won.
It might surprise you to find out how many lawyers who consider themselves trial lawyers have never won a wrongful death case, or any case for that matter. The decision of whether to settle or try your case can be the biggest decision of our life. Talk to someone who knows what they’re doing.
Frequently Asked Questions: Navigating Wrongful Death Settlements
In the midst of grief, questions about legal recourse and financial compensation can arise. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding wrongful death settlements, along with informative answers to guide you through this difficult time:
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Worth?
There’s no “average settlement” amount. Each case is unique, considering factors like the deceased person’s age, earning potential, relationship with survivors, and the severity of the accident. However, damages usually encompass various losses resulting from your loved one’s death, including:
- Economic losses. Funeral expenses, burial costs, medical bills, and lost income the deceased would have provided.
- Non-economic losses. Loss of companionship, loss of consortium (spousal relationship), and emotional distress.
- Punitive damages. In rare cases, to punish the responsible party for egregious behavior.
An experienced Personal Injury Attorney can evaluate your specific case and estimate a potential financial compensation range for economic and non-economic damages.
What if the Other Party Has Limited Insurance?
When the party responsible has limited insurance coverage, navigating compensation options can be confusing. An experienced personal injury lawyer can negotiate aggressively with the insurance company to secure the full policy limit for your claim. This covers economic losses like medical and funeral expenses and potentially some non-economic losses like loss of companionship.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit if My Loved One Died Due to Medical Negligence?
Yes, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit if a healthcare professional’s negligence contributed to your loved one’s passing. Medical negligence, also known as medical malpractice, occurs when a healthcare professional deviates from the accepted standard of care, causing harm or death to a patient. This could include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Failure to properly monitor a patient
Seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to find answers to all your medical malpractice questions.
What Happens if the Party Responsible for My Loved One’s Death Is Facing Criminal Charges?
Civil and criminal cases are separate proceedings. A wrongful death lawsuit seeks financial compensation for your losses, while criminal charges aim to punish the individual for their actions. You can pursue both simultaneously.
What Evidence Do I Need to Support My Wrongful Death Claim?
The specific evidence needed varies depending on the circumstances of your case. However, generally helpful documents include:
- The accident report
- Medical records
- Proof of income and lost wages (for the deceased)
- Documentation of funeral and burial expenses
- Witness statements
I’m Worried About the Financial Burden of Legal Fees. What Options Do I Have?
Many personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning they only receive a fee if they successfully recover compensation for you. This removes the upfront financial risk for you during this challenging time.
Remember, this information is for general understanding and does not constitute legal advice. For personalized guidance based on your specific situation, contact a qualified wrongful death attorney at Fasig | Brooks.