How is the Settlement Divided in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Last Updated on September 25,2023
When playing blackjack at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas last year, a lawyer visiting the city to attend a conference suffered a heart attack. When the man collapsed, casino employees allegedly did not offer medical help for 15 minutes, and when they finally attempted using a defibrillator to revive the victim, they were not trained properly on how to use it. The man died six months later, and his family have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wynn – claiming the casino employees’ negligence exacerbated the medical condition the Florida man later died from.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is when a person is killed as a result of someone else’s negligent action or inaction. Wrongful death lawsuits allow the deceased person’s family to recover damages for the losses they suffer because of their loved one’s death. While no amount of money can bring back a loved one, these lawsuits can provide a sense of closure and financial support for the family left behind.
Examples of situations that may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit include:
In order for a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, the plaintiff (the surviving family members) must prove that the defendant (the person or entity responsible for the death) acted negligently or intentionally and that their actions directly caused the death of their loved one. In the case of the lawsuit against Wynn, the family members claim the casino employees ignored the victim when he collapsed, and were not competent when trying to use a defibrillator to revive him. The family may be able to recover damages for things like medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional distress.
It’s important to note that not all family members are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In most states, only spouses, children, and parents of the deceased person are allowed to file these types of lawsuits. Additionally, there is a time limit (known as the statute of limitations) for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which in Nevada is two years.
What are the Steps in Settling a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Determining damages: Determining damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can be a complex process. Generally, there are three main components to consider when calculating damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages refer to the financial harms suffered, such as the decedent’s expected lifetime earnings, potential inheritances, and services and goods provided by the decedent. Non-economic damages are those that are not easily quantifiable, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future. In order to recover compensation, the plaintiff must prove that a person or entity behaved negligently or committed an intentional act. The types of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit depend on the state’s wrongful death laws and the deceased’s relationships with surviving family members. Financial planning experts may be consulted to estimate future costs.
Establishing liability: Liability in a wrongful death lawsuit refers to who is responsible for the death of the decedent. In order to prove liability, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted negligently or intentionally and that their actions directly caused the death of the decedent. Negligent actions can include things like careless driving or medical malpractice, while intentional actions might include murder or assault. The plaintiff must also prove that they suffered damages as a result of the death, such as lost income or emotional distress. In some cases, multiple parties may be found liable for the death, and damages may be apportioned between them.
Negotiating the settlement: Settlement negotiations in a wrongful death lawsuit can be a way for both parties to avoid the expense and uncertainty of a trial. During settlement negotiations, the plaintiff and defendant, or their attorneys, will discuss the case and attempt to reach an agreement on how much compensation the defendant will pay to the plaintiff. Settlement negotiations can take place at any point during the litigation process, and may involve multiple rounds of negotiations. The plaintiff’s attorney will typically prepare a demand letter outlining the amount of compensation they are seeking, and the defendant’s attorney will respond with a counteroffer. Negotiations may involve discussions of liability, damages, and the strengths and weaknesses of the case. If a settlement is reached, the plaintiff will typically agree to drop their lawsuit in exchange for the agreed-upon compensation, and the defendant will avoid the risk of a trial.
Dividing the settlement: Dividing the settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit can be a complex process, especially if there are multiple plaintiffs or defendants involved. In general, the settlement will be divided among the plaintiffs based on their degree of loss and the damages they have suffered as a result of the decedent’s death. For example, if the decedent was the primary breadwinner for their family, the spouse and children may receive a larger portion of the settlement than other beneficiaries. If there are multiple defendants, the settlement may be divided proportionally based on the degree of fault or liability that each defendant bears for the death.
Accounting for legal fees and tax obligations: It’s important to keep in mind that legal fees and expenses will be deducted from the settlement amount before it is divided among the surviving family members. These fees can include attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses related to the litigation. It’s also important to consider the tax implications of a wrongful death settlement. Depending on the circumstances of the settlement, it may be subject to federal and state taxes, which can further reduce the amount of compensation received by the surviving family members.
When pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s essential to be aware of tactics that might be used to devalue an injury claim. Insurance companies and opposing parties may employ strategies to minimize the settlement amount, so understanding these tactics can be crucial.
If you have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, contact our expert personal injury legal team or call 702-680-1111 today for a free consultation. We will help you claim the compensation you deserve.