How Much Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?
The true answer is: it depends. We would rather give you a truthful response than a simple blanket formula that is incorrect. However, we can provide some broad guidelines of how much a wrongful death lawsuit is worth. Here are four factors that will adjust the valuation of a wrongful death lawsuit.
1. Fault: How much was the person or corporation who caused the accident in the wrong?
This is important. The law in California makes corporations pay a percentage of the amount they are at fault. This means that for a wrongful death case, the person who caused the accident will have to pay the largest amount to settle the case, or after a jury decides the case.
2. Type of person: What was the character of the person who was killed?
The value of cases is more or less depending on how much a jury would like them. If a person is well liked, a valuable member of the community and has friends that say kind things about them, their loss will be valued higher than someone who has an addiction to drugs, multiple divorces and a difficult employment situation.
3. Employment: How much money were they making a year?
When a person is killed, the amount of money they made is crucial. This has a large effect on the valuation of a wrongful death case. The value of the case goes up by the amount of money the person was making per year, as that support is no longer provided for the family. This gets added together to get to the overall value of the case.
4. The law firm: How legitimate is the law firm hired by the family?
This is the sad truth. It should make no difference, but it does. A wrongful death lawsuit is worth different amounts depending on the lawyers who represent you. This is because the individual or corporation that is defending the lawsuit will size up the law firm that is representing the family. If the firm is one who has multiple trials with large verdicts, the case is worth significantly more. If the law firm does not have much trial experience, is a younger firm, practices other areas of law or simply does not have a reputation of being a “heavy hitting” trial firm, the case is worth significantly less. The best way to find this out is call a lawyer who does not practice personal injury or wrongful death cases, and ask who the best litigation firm is in town.
These four guidelines are rarely communicated to the client. We are sharing these with you, because these are things that all lawyers know that potential clients should know (but don’t).