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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Suppose a loved one has died due to negligent actions. In that case, the family members may initiate a wrongful death case on behalf of a decedent to receive compensation for their untimely passing.

It's therefore important to talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney. The lawyer will help you know how to file a wrongful death claim for a loved one's death and who can be compensated via death settlements payment.


At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for our clients and have obtained over $250 million of wrongful death settlements on their behalf. Our expert wrongful death lawyers offer a free consultation, and you do not have to pay any upfront fees. Call us today toll-free at (888) 424-5757

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

What Is a Wrongful Death Case Settlement?

Wrongful death settlements compensate families for loss and damages incurred due to the passing of a loved one. These losses may be monetary and non-financial, such as medical expenditures, burial fees, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.

Wrongful death settlements paid to the victim's family members include compensatory damages. Compensatory damages cover economic losses and may include loss of current and estimated income, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment, and emotional distress.

The amount of money you may receive in this type of lawsuit could be decided by several criteria, including:

  • Who was found to be at blame for the accident,
  • Relevant insurance policy limitations
  • Whether the victim was working at the time of the accident, and
  • The deceased's past wage.

Scenarios That May Constitute a Wrongful Death

A wrongful death may happen due to the negligent actions of another party that results in the untimely passing of another person. The most common causes of wrongful death include:

  • It is the result of a defective product, such as a defective seatbelt in a car accident
  • The death was due to the negligence or acts of the carelessness of a motorist
  • A dangerous workplace was a factor that contributed to the personal injury and death
  • Medical malpractice resulted in the death of a loved one
  • A lack of security and safety measures caused the death of a loved one

If you're still unsure if your loved one died due to wrongful death, contact a personal injury law firm to help evaluate your case. Every wrongful death claim is unique; you may contact our law firm if you suspect another person was involved in losing your loved one.

Remember that you have the right to legal representation as you pursue compensation for your loss. Calling a reputable law firm will help you better understand scenarios involving your loved one's death.

How to Determine Fair Compensation for Wrongful Death

The at-fault party's insurance company pays for the settlement amount in most car accidents. However, many families feel that insurance payments are not enough to compensate for the at-fault parties' fatal negligence.

A fair settlement amount for a loved one's death is generally proportionate to the decedent's earning power and estimated financial losses.

The amount includes both economic and non-economic damages. This means calculating the decedent's projected earnings if they had lived. Some of the factors to take into consideration includes:

  • The decedent's age
  • The decedent's education and earning capacity
  • The decedent's health status and lost income
  • Dependent's age and circumstances
  • Medical bills and other expenses incurred
  • Future benefits lost
  • Funeral expenses

The amount presented in the claim must be supported with adequate documentation. Our personal injury attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC works with experts, including medical professionals and economists, to develop an objective amount.

How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help

Our lawyer may help pursue a personal injury case against a defendant:

  • Get your case started by filling out and submitting papers.
  • Obtain proof that the defendant breached the duty of care and caused the death of your loved one.
  • Gather witness testimony
  • Speak with the defendant's legal counsel to the determine the available wrongful death settlement options

Our law firm will help you throughout the legal process. Moreover, the attorney will argue that the defendant is to blame for the loss of your loved one.

Who Has the Right to File Claims for Wrongful Deaths?

In some states, the law allows the decedent's family to file a claim. For example, the Michigan wrongful death law allows the spouse and children of the decedent to file a claim or lawsuit for accidental deaths.

However, in Illinois, the law requires an executor to file a death claim. This is based on the assumption that a deceased person appointed a personal representative to oversee the estate assets before their passing.

The court may appoint a representative without an appointed personal representative who will pursue the wrongful death claim and carry out tasks concerning the estate.

How to Prove Fault and Pursue Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim

A lawyer's expertise is vital in proving that the defendant is to blame for the tragic loss. An expert assessment of the circumstances surrounding the accident is critical. Therefore, to confirm that the defendant is at fault, the attorney may demonstrate that the defendant:

  • Had a duty to protect the victim from a dangerous situation
  • Breached this duty to protect
  • Failure to uphold this duty of care resulted in the death of your loved one
  • The demise of your loved one resulted in substantial financial loss.

In addition, the attorney will also calculate damages and request a court order for the defendant to pay sufficient financial compensation to your family.

Understanding How State Laws Affect Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims are subject to state statutes of limitations. These laws dictate who has the right to pursue a claim and how long one must submit a claim in a civil court. In addition, state laws may affect the number of recoverable damages and who has the right to receive the settlement amounts.

As the legal or personal representative, you can file the case as soon as possible to minimize delays. However, as state laws vary and each case is unique, it is essential to consult with an expert lawyer in state laws governing a wrongful death claim.

Our lawyer can tell how much time you have to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit in your state.

The Tax Liability of a Wrongful death Settlement

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers wrongful death settlement amount as compensatory damage, which makes this claim not taxable. The amount is not taxable as the purpose of the claim is to reimburse the family for someone else's negligence or intentional harm.

In wrongful death cases, the settlement covers the following:

  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering are awarded to the surviving parents of a decedent below 25 years of age.
  • Loss of deceased's income
  • Burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of consortium

However, while compensatory damage is not taxable, the IRS may impose a tax on the settlement amount awarded to the deceased's estate.

How Wrongful Death Settlements Are Distributed

A wrongful death claim can be stressful. Even if a legal representative succeeds in reaching a wrongful death settlement with the at-fault party, other complications often arise in these types of cases.

Some family members may contest the distribution of a wrongful death settlement. The case of how the settlement amounts are distributed is best resolved by applying the laws of intestate succession.

What to Do Next If I Consider Filing a Wrongful Death Case

The essential thing right now is your health and wellness. Seize this opportunity to honor your loved one's life and accomplishments. Spending time with family and friends may provide you with some relief.

Here are some other considerations to examine that may help your case succeed:

  • Receipts, invoices, estimates, and billing statements should all be kept as evidence of your losses.
  • Avoid using social media to spread information about your case
  • Consider teaming up with a wrongful death attorney
  • Examine how the statute of limitations in your state impacts your filing deadline

You should also determine whether to accept payment from the insurance company. The insurer's first offer, in our experience, does not take into consideration claimants' losses.

Getting the advice of a personal injury lawyer will give you a better idea of whether to agree with the insurance company's personal injury settlement offer.

FAQs on Compensation for Wrongful Deaths

Our attorneys understand that many families have questions when dealing directly with insurance companies when their loved one was killed through a preventable accident or event. Our lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have answered some of those questions below.

What Are the Wrongful Death Settlement Payout Options?

The parties may agree to work out the compensation in a lump sum or a structured settlement. While it is up to the parties to determine the settlement payout, the defendant's circumstances generally determine how the compensation is paid.

What Are Structured Settlements in Wrongful Death Cases?

A structured settlement is an agreement where the defendant pays in staggered payments. These payments are usually paid once a month, although the parties may work out a different arrangement depending on their circumstances.

Plaintiffs who desire to receive a lump sum amount may sell a portion or all of their rights to the structured settlement in an annuity. Instead of receiving ongoing payments, the structured installments are converted into a single amount.

The advantage of a structured settlement is that the surviving family benefits from the future payments on an ongoing basis. The drawback is the inflexibility of the terms, which can be challenging to modify.

What Are Lump-Sum Settlement Payments in a Wrongful Death Suit?

A lump-sum payment resulting from a wrongful death suit refers to instances when the defendant or the insurance company pays the full amount of wrongful death damages at once. Plaintiffs who get a lump sum payout but desire a structured settlement may deposit the money in a trust fund.

The recipient will then arrange for a structured payment with the fund so that the funds will be available as monthly payments over a longer period.

The advantage of lump-sum payments is that the surviving relatives can use the fund to pay for expenses accrued about the incident and the lawsuit. Some of these expenses include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Legal representation and legal fees paid to the lawyer

The drawback of a lump sum payment is that managing the fund can be difficult. A loved one's death can hurt the family's finances. What is worst is that these tragic incidents often result in debts that arise from funeral costs, accumulated medical bills, and financial losses.

Failure to wisely manage the fund well may pose a financial risk to the family.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlement Paid Out?

In most wrongful death lawsuits, the deceased person has a legal representative who files legal action against the at-fault party or the other party's insurance company. Nonetheless, even a legal representative may not qualify to receive the settlements paid to the decedent's estate.

In most states, the settlement amount is divided between the spouse and the children, provided the spouse received not less than one-third of the total amount.

According to the Illinois law on settlement payment, the amount must be distributed to benefit the deceased person's surviving spouse and next of kin.

What Is the Role of the Personal Representative?

The personal representative of the decedent is responsible for pursuing legal claims. However, they are also expected to act in the family's best interest as they discuss settlement figures and decide whether to go to trial or agree on a settlement.

While the executor plays a crucial role in managing the decedent's estate, court approval is necessary before the settlement is concluded. The court approval allows beneficiaries to object to the settlement if they feel the amount is insufficient to compensate for their loss.

What Is the Intestate Succession?

Intestate succession refers to the distribution of the owner's assets without a will. This law also applies to wrongful death proceeds in the following manner:

  • With a spouse and no children: the spouse gets 100% of the settlement amount
  • With a spouse and one child: the spouse and child split the amount equally
  • With a spouse and two children: the spouse and the children will divide the amount equally

Regardless of who filed the claim or lawsuit, a rightful beneficiary will receive their reasonable share of the proceeds.

An Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

Did a loved one die after an accident caused by the negligence of another individual? You may be entitled to bring a legal action for wrongful death against the responsible party.

Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and your potential case. Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer.

Most people planning to file a lawsuit often have concerns about the cost of hiring an attorney. We at Rosenfeld Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC work on a contingency fee basis.

Under a contingency fee bases, clients don't have to pay upfront costs unless they receive a settlement through our representation. With a contingency fee agreement, clients can pursue their claims regardless of their financial status.


Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa