No two wrongful death claims are the same. Before you and other surviving family members settle a wrongful death lawsuit, you should calculate your claims’ value and assess your insurance coverage. Otherwise, you might receive much less than the full value of your claims.
Depending on your situation, you might have two types of claims:
- Wrongful death claim: Filed on behalf of surviving family members, this claim compensates you for your losses, including lost financial support and inheritance, the cost of counseling, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, grief, and mental anguish.
- Survival claim: Filed on behalf of the person who died, this claim compensates their estate for losses they suffered before passing away, including pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income.
You will need to document these losses by providing medical bills, doctors’ notes, estimates from economists and life planners, and other evidence.
In some cases, the individual or estate filing the lawsuit can demand exemplary or punitive damages. These damages are in addition to more traditional economic and non-economic damages, and are supposed to punish the at-fault party for their actions. Exemplary damages are relatively rare in Texas, and you will need to show that the other party acted intentionally or with extreme recklessness.
If you want to understand the value of your family’s wrongful death claim, schedule a no-risk consultation. We can help you identify the insurance policies and factors that will affect your case’s settlement value.
What Is a Structured Settlement?
When you agree to a structured settlement, you will receive payments over time (instead on in a lump sum). Typically, the insurance company buys you an annuity to cover these payments.
Structured settlements and lump sum payments both have pros and cons. With a structured settlement, you’re guaranteed compensation over a long period of time (which could be viewed as a pro or a con). This provides consistent support for long-term needs and can help you budget wisely. However, you might not be able to cover all your pending debts at once, which could lead to severe financial hardship.
If you’re not sure whether a structured settlement is in your best interest, schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’ll assess your case and give you honest advice.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxed?
Structured settlements are non-taxable, but lump sum payments for wrongful death settlements are a little more complicated. The IRS does not tax the settlement itself, but there are segments of the settlement that could be taxed, including:
- Punitive damages
- Emotional distress not directly related to the manner of death
- Medical bills deducted from your income in previous years
This can get complex pretty quickly. However, the taxes could potentially be minimized and the settlement itself increased by enlisting the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.