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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

by Nov 9, 2021Car Accidents, Dea Cortney, Mike Miller, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

Not all fatal car accidents are due to negligence by the driver who caused the crash. Accidents happen on the road for many reasons which is why we all carry car insurance. In the case of a fatal accident, the decedent’s insurance will generally cover the immediate financial aftermath of an auto accident regardless of its cause. However, the death of a loved one doesn’t stop being a financial and emotional burden just because insurance has paid out benefits. If your family member was killed in a car or semi-truck accident caused by a negligent driver, you should consider pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit with our Minnesota personal injury lawyers to hold the driver responsible and to receive financial compensation.

Understanding Wrongful Deaths

A wrongful death caused by a car accident goes beyond the benefits the deceased’s family will receive through insurance. In a legal sense, a wrongful death is one that was caused by the negligence of another party. When it comes to a fatal car accident, this may mean that the other driver was intoxicated, was purposely driving aggressively, or was distracted as a result of their own negligent decisions (texting while driving, for example). A wrongful death car accident could have been prevented if the other driver had not displayed negligent behavior; this is why the family members of the decedent may be entitled to financial compensation for the loss of their loved one. Compensation may cover the deceased’s medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of future earnings, and loss of consortium damages. Specific damages are to be calculated with the following in mind:

  • Decedent’s contributions in the past;
  • Life Expectancy;
  • Occupation;
  • Past Earnings;
  • Likely future earning capacity and prospects of bettering themselves had they lived;
  • Personal living expenses;
  • Legal obligations to support others;
  • Reasonable expenses incurred for funeral and burial;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Any debts owed to others;
  • Counsel, guidance, and aid they would have provided to others; and
  • Advice, Comfort, assistance, companionship, and protection that would have been given had they lived. 

Some of these non-financial damages can be difficult to value, so these are generally more likely to be disputed than expenses such as medical bills.

Who Pays Out A Wrongful Death Settlement?

You may assume your wrongful death case will target the other driver directly. In actuality, a wrongful death settlement is often addressed to the other driver’s auto insurance company. This company will be the one to provide legal representation for the case. If your Minnesota wrongful death attorneys reach an agreement with the insurance company, they will be the ones to pay out the settlement to your family. 

The vast majority of wrongful death cases end in a settlement, but there are different ways that settlement can be paid out. The first option is a lump-sum payout that is paid to the family all at once. This allows family members to pay off attorney fees, medical bills, and debts right away, but without proper planning a lump sum may make it difficult to provide for the family long-term. The second settlement option is known as a structured settlement. It is paid to the victim’s family little by little on a regular schedule. This approach may provide longer-term support, but it makes it difficult to pay off large bills and other debts. Discuss both options with your Minnesota wrongful death lawyers to determine which is best for your family.

Who to Call After A Fatal Car Accident

If you’ve lost your loved one in a fatal car, semi truck, or pedestrian accident in Minnesota, we suggest contacting a personal injury law firm right away to learn about your family’s rights and legal options. Sieben Edmunds Miller is a wrongful death law firm in Minnesota made up of experienced and award-winning team members. Contact us to discuss the specifics of your loved one’s death, and we will help you determine whether a wrongful death case is the right choice for your family.

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