How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
Wrongful death settlements are the legal resolutions reached when a person dies due to someone else’s negligence or intentional harm after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. While monetary compensation cannot bring back a loved one, it helps provide financial security for surviving family members.
Understanding how wrongful death settlements are paid out is crucial in navigating the complex settlement process. From trust funds to structured payments and lump-sum amounts, it is essential to understand the various ways in which these settlements can be disbursed.
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Distribution of damages depends on the survivors
In general, the surviving spouse and children are given priority in the distribution of damages and receiving compensation. Typically, the settlement amount is divided among these beneficiaries based on financial dependency and loss of support.
If there is no surviving spouse or children, other family members, like parents or siblings, may be entitled to a portion of the damages. The specifics can vary, emphasizing the importance of consulting with wrongful death lawyers specializing in wrongful death cases to ensure fair and just distribution of settlements.
Wrongful death settlements could be structured in different ways
Wrongful death settlements can be structured in various ways, depending on the specific circumstances of each case. One common approach is to receive the settlement as a lump sum payment, which provides immediate compensation for the survivors. This option allows them to cover medical expenses, funeral costs, outstanding debts, and other financial needs.
During a lump sum distribution, any outstanding obligations are paid first, like attorney’s fees. Once those debts are satisfied, the remaining settlement proceeds are distributed to the survivors.
Alternatively, settlements can be paid out through structured payments or annuities. In this arrangement, the proceeds from the compensation are divided into regular installments over an agreed-upon period. These periodic payments provide long-term financial security by ensuring a steady income stream for surviving family members.
Additionally, some settlements may involve establishing trust funds for minors or dependents who cannot manage large sums of money.
What damages can a surviving spouse recover after a wrongful death?
A surviving spouse in a wrongful death case may be entitled to recover various damages, depending on specific circumstances. Some common types of damages a surviving spouse can seek include:
- Loss of companionship/consortium: This refers to the emotional support, love, affection, and guidance the deceased spouse would have provided
- Loss of financial support and benefits: A surviving spouse may be able to recover damages for the loss of the deceased’s income or potential future earnings. They can also be entitled to recover compensation for losing benefits like health insurance and retirement.
- Funeral and burial expenses: The costs of organizing a funeral service and laying the deceased spouse to rest are typically included in the damages
- Medical expenses: The surviving spouse may seek compensation for medical bills incurred before the death of their loved one
- Pain and suffering: A surviving spouse may be able to recover damages for the emotional pain, anguish, and mental suffering caused by their spouse’s wrongful death
- Punitive damages: In certain situations, the surviving spouse may be awarded punitive damages when the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional
Can a minor child recover a settlement for the loss of a parent in Florida?
In Florida, a minor child can potentially recover a settlement for losing a parent in wrongful death cases. They could recover damages for:
- Loss of support and services: This refers to the financial support and services the deceased would have provided their child had they survived
- Loss of companionship and guidance: Children may seek compensation for the emotional support, love, guidance, and companionship they would have received from their deceased parent
- Pain and suffering: Damages could include compensation for the emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish experienced by the child due to losing their parent
- Medical and funeral expenses: If the child incurred any medical or funeral expenses related to their parent’s wrongful death, they may be eligible to seek reimbursement for these costs
The specific amount of damages and the process for pursuing a settlement will depend on different factors. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney helps ensure that children receive fair compensation for their losses.
Can an adult child of a deceased parent recover a settlement in Florida?
Adult children can potentially recover a settlement for the loss of a parent in Florida for wrongful death. Florida law views adult children as survivors who may be entitled to compensation for losses resulting from their parent’s death. Similar to minor children, adult children can seek various types of damages.
Can a parent of a deceased minor child recover a wrongful death settlement?
The parent of a deceased minor child could recover a wrongful death settlement in Florida. Parents are considered survivors and have legal standing to pursue compensation for losing their minor child in wrongful death cases, which could include:
- Pain and suffering: Parents can seek damages for the emotional distress, grief, and mental anguish they experience due to losing their child
- Loss of companionship: Compensation may be awarded to account for the loss of love, affection, and companionship their deceased child would have provided
- Medical and funeral expenses: If the parent incurred any medical or funeral expenses related to the child’s wrongful death, they may be eligible for reimbursement
Can a parent of a deceased adult child recover a wrongful death settlement?
In Florida, the parent of a deceased adult child generally does not have standing to recover a wrongful death settlement. Under Florida’s wrongful death statute, only specific survivors are eligible to pursue compensation for the loss of their loved one.
However, there could be certain circumstances where an adult child’s parents may have legal standing to file a wrongful death claim under exceptional circumstances. For example, if the deceased adult child was unmarried and had no children, or their parents were financially dependent and relied on them for support and services.
Can dependent relatives recover a wrongful death settlement?
Dependent relatives can recover a wrongful death settlement in Florida. Certain surviving family members financially dependent on the deceased may be eligible to seek compensation for their losses. Typically this includes:
- Minor or adult children
Can blood relatives recover a wrongful death settlement?
Blood relatives who are direct survivors of the deceased may be able to seek compensation for wrongful death in Florida. They have legal standing to pursue compensation for their losses, including children and parents of the deceased.
Can adopted brothers and sisters recover a wrongful death settlement?
In Florida, adopted brothers and sisters can seek damages in a wrongful death settlement. Adopted siblings are generally considered legal relatives and have standing to pursue compensation for their losses.
However, it does depend on the level of dependency and support they were receiving from the decedent as to what type of compensation they could seek. As such, it is worthwhile to consult with a wrongful death lawyer.
Can adopted children of a deceased parent recover a wrongful death settlement?
Adopted children have the same rights as biological or natural children when claiming damages in a wrongful death case. They may be eligible to seek various types of compensation, including loss of support and services, loss of companionship, mental pain and suffering, and reimbursement of medical and funeral expenses incurred due to their parent’s wrongful death.
What factors determine the value of a survivor’s loss in a wrongful death case?
The value of a survivor’s loss in a wrongful death case is determined by several factors that take into account the specific circumstances and impact of the death on the surviving individuals, including:
- Financial dependence: The extent to which survivors financially rely on the deceased person, including income, support, and services provided
- Relationship to the deceased: The nature and strength of the relationship between the survivor and the deceased are considered when valuing losses
- Age and life expectancy: These factors assess how long survivors would have likely benefited from their relationship with the deceased to estimate future financial losses
- Emotional impact: The emotional pain, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium experienced by the survivors due to the wrongful death are also considered when determining damages
- Medical and funeral expenses: Reimbursement for any medical bills or funeral costs incurred can contribute to the overall value of a survivor’s loss
- Future economic implications: Potential future earnings that survivors might have received from the deceased person can also be factored into calculating damages.
It’s important to note that every case is unique, and these factors may vary based on jurisdiction and individual circumstances.
How long does it take to get paid after a settlement has been determined?
The time it takes to receive payment after a settlement has been determined can vary depending on several factors, as follows:
- Approval and processing: Once a settlement has been reached, it typically needs to go through an approval process by the court or insurance company involved
- Documentation and paperwork: Before payment is made, various documentation and paperwork must be completed, such as signing release forms and providing necessary information for disbursement
- Disbursement method: The chosen disbursement method can also impact the time it takes to receive payment
- Resolution of any outstanding issues: Occasionally, additional issues or disputes may need to be resolved before payment is made, which can prolong the process
- Communication and coordination: Effective and timely communication between all parties involved is crucial for expediting the payment process
How can a wrongful death attorney in Florida help me?
A wrongful death attorney in Florida can provide invaluable assistance and support throughout the legal process of pursuing a wrongful death claim, including:
- Legal expertise: An experienced wrongful death attorney understands the complex laws and regulations surrounding wrongful death cases in Florida. They can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected, and advise you on the best course of action to seek fair compensation.
- Investigation: A skilled attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident leading to the wrongful death to build a strong case and establish liability
- Negotiation with insurance companies: Wrongful death attorneys are adept at negotiating with insurance companies and other parties involved to ensure fair compensation and a favorable settlement
- Documentation and paperwork: Wrongful death cases involve extensive documentation and paperwork. An attorney can handle these administrative tasks efficiently on your behalf, ensuring all required forms are completed correctly.
- Emotional support: Grieving the loss of a loved one is emotionally challenging, and pursuing a legal case can add further stress. A wrongful death attorney can provide compassionate support and understanding during this difficult time.
- Network of experts: Attorneys often have strong networks of experts, such as medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists, forensic analysts, and economists. They can leverage these resources to strengthen your case and present compelling evidence supporting your claim.
- Representation in court: If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, an attorney will represent you in court proceedings. They will present your case before a judge and jury, advocating for your rights and seeking maximum damages.
By hiring a wrongful death attorney in Florida from Bernstein & Maryanoff, you gain an advocate who will fight for your rights and work toward obtaining the compensation you deserve while allowing you to focus on healing and grieving the loss of your loved one.
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Contact our wrongful death lawyer in Florida for a free consultation today.
Bieber, C. (2022). What Is a Structured Settlement?
FLA. STAT. § 768.21. (2023).
FLA. STAT. § 768.26. (2023).