How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
If you have lost a loved one through the ill intentions or negligence of another party, it can be hard to know what to do next. You know you have suffered a significant loss, but you also know that the death of your loved one has come with a financial loss. Many people who reach out to lawyers about wrongful death claims often have the same question: how are wrongful death settlements paid out? The following information may shed some light on how the process works.
Submitting a Wrongful Death Claim
To determine how a wrongful death settlement is paid out, you first have to know who can make the claim in the first place. The statute in California dictates that the living spouse of the deceased, a surviving partner, or their children and grandchildren can submit a wrongful death claim. However, if there is no spouse, partner, or children, there is a line of descent which allows siblings and parents to submit a claim. Consult a wrongful death attorney to find out if you are eligible.
Determining What You Can Claim For
During the claims process, your chosen attorney will help you identify what you can claim for. Typically, you can put in a claim for financial losses between when the negligence occurred and the plaintiff died. These losses could include wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and funeral and burial expenses. However, you may also be able to claim for the loss to your family after their death, such as lost earnings up until the time of the defendant’s retirement.
Establishing a Settlement Type
If you are successful in your settlement claim, two payment options may have been put forward to you during the negotiation process. These include a structured settlement and a lump-sum payment.
With a lump sum payment, you receive all of the damages you successfully claimed for in one single payment. This payment allows you to cover all those expenses the loss of your loved one incurred, such as funeral costs, legal fees, and medical bills.
Alternatively, you may have opted for a structured settlement payout, which allows you to receive regular payments on a schedule, typically monthly. While such a payment option allows for consistent income, it may not prove convenient for paying off expenses as quickly as you may have hoped.
The method of payment can sometimes depend on the defendant. An insurance company may opt for a lump sum payment given their ability to do so. An individual at fault for the death of your loved one may require more time and request a structured settlement.
Paying Tax On a Wrongful Death Settlement
Federal tax law dictates that settlements obtained through an injury, illness, or death, are not taxable. However, there can be some exceptions, such as if you had already claimed their medical expenses as a deduction when filing your taxes. It can be worth talking to your wrongful death attorney to find out what the taxing process may involve.
Understanding how wrongful death settlements are paid out can take some time. Request a free consultation to learn whether you are eligible to make a claim and if settlement looks like a likely outcome for you.