Every wrongful death case is different, meaning that the total settlement amount in a Las Vegas case will vary due to the factors contributing to the case. Knowing how these cases work can help you better figure out how much wrongful death settlements may be and how much you might be able to recover in your case.
What Is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Las Vegas?
How much can you get from a wrongful death lawsuit, exactly? If you’re curious to know what a typical wrongful death settlement can help victims’ loved ones recover, there isn’t a universal average. There are many situations that can lead to a wrongful death, causing the potential settlement to vary greatly from case to case. Your case could be worth thousands to millions, depending on the degree of negligence and the types of damages involved, among other factors.
If you believe you have a valid wrongful death case in Las Vegas or elsewhere, you can work with an experienced lawyer to determine what kind of settlement you can pursue.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The damages that families of wrongful death victims may recover include many of the same damages available in other types of personal injury lawsuits. Specifically, they may be able to recover a combination of economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
It’s important to understand each type of damage to determine how much your case may be worth.
The first type of damage to consider is economic, also known as monetary or special. Economic damages take into account all financial losses that victims and their families suffer in tort cases, including wrongful death cases. There are many types of economic damages that both wrongful death victims and their loved ones may sustain following any type of accident that leads to death.
Examples of economic damages in wrongful death cases could include:
- Medical expenses for treating the victim up to his or her death, including hospital stays, diagnostics, and ambulance rides
- Lost income resulting from the victim’s inability to work before and after death
- Property damage
- Lost future earnings resulting from the death
- The cost of services after the person’s death, such as funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of inheritance
In addition to economic damages, the families of wrongful death victims may be able to recover certain non-economic or general damages. These account for the other types of personal losses loved ones experience because of the victim’s death.
Examples of these damages may include any psychological distress that victims’ families endured, loss of companionship or consortium resulting from the death, and loss of nurturing or guidance from the deceased loved one.
These damages are more difficult to calculate than economic damages because they aren’t as tangible in their nature, but there are ways to calculate them and count them toward a settlement with the help of a wrongful death settlement calculator or calculation method.
Some wrongful death cases may also involve punitive damages meant to punish defendants for gross negligence or malicious behavior. What makes punitive damages different from economic and non-economic damages is that they aren’t compensatory. Instead, only the courts can award these damages in a trial setting with the goal of punishing the defendant. Ultimately, these damages aim to help deter defendants and others from engaging in similarly egregious behavior in the future.
While punitive damages rarely play into wrongful deaths or other personal injury cases, your case could involve them depending on the circumstances.
Whether your case involves economic, non-economic, or punitive damages, skilled Las Vegas wrongful death lawyers may be able to help identify and calculate all potential damages to calculate the total settlement.
How a Wrongful Death Settlement Is Calculated in Nevada
All the compensatory and punitive damages in your case factor into the total wrongful death settlement amount. An attorney can work with you to help you calculate the total dollar amount you’re potentially entitled to recover.
In addition to these damages, other factors could contribute to the total settlement amount you can recover.
Factors That Might Impact a Wrongful Death Settlement Amount
The following are some factors that can influence the total amount of compensation you’re able to recover in a wrongful death case:
The Victim’s Health and Age at the Time of Death
Some factors that could play into a wrongful death case include the deceased victim’s health status, age, and life expectancy when he or she passed. By looking at these factors, insurers, attorneys, and courts can determine the chances of a person dying and from what cause.
An example of this would be a victim who dies in a car crash. The victim’s family could argue that the other driver involved was at fault and caused the victim’s death through negligence, but the victim could have had generally poor or delicate health that increased the chances of his or her death in an accident of any type. In this case, the defendants may make this argument in an attempt to show that the defendant’s negligence didn’t cause the victim’s death.
The Medical Costs of Treating the Victim
Many wrongful death cases don’t immediately result in the person’s death. The victim may survive for a period after an initial accident, in which case he or she may accumulate various medical bills for treatment leading up to his or her death.
For example, the victim may incur costs of ambulance rides, diagnostics procedures, hospital bills, medication costs, and surgery expenses. These expenses could all contribute to the final settlement amount.
The Victim’s Lost Earning Capacity
The loss of a loved one could also hurt the family financially, as the victim is no longer able to work and provide for his or her loved ones. An attorney can help calculate the amount of lost earning potential that the victim’s loss could lead to in the coming months and years, which could further contribute to a settlement.
The Circumstances Leading to the Person’s Death
The nature of the victim’s death will also factor into the wrongful death settlement. For instance, a wrongful death victim may have died due to the negligence of multiple parties. Depending on the degree of liability each party shared, this could influence the total settlement amount. Other victims may die in work-related accidents, in which case workers’ compensation benefits may contribute to the settlement.
The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Nevada
Another critical factor to consider is the statute of limitations for your case. This statute of limitations gives you a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim. In Nevada, the statute of limitations is two years, meaning you have two years after the death to begin a claim or lawsuit.
So, after a wrongful death, what are your odds of getting full compensation once you reach the statute of limitations? Most states take the statute of limitations seriously, meaning that you likely won’t be able to succeed with a case if you don’t file before this time limit passes.
However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, such as:
- Minors can only file a wrongful death case once they turn 18, which could lead to an extension of that two-year limit, depending on the person’s age.
- Some cases may not begin until the victim’s loved ones discover that negligence led to the victim’s death.
- The statute of limitations may be different for a case if the victim was from another state with a different statute of limitations.
- Defendants may attempt to conceal their involvement in a person’s death when they were truly responsible, which could encourage Nevada courts to extend the statute to allow for potential legal repercussions against the defendant.
Who Is Able to File a Wrongful Death Case in Nevada?
Multiple parties could file a wrongful death case on behalf of a deceased victim, including:
- Surviving spouses or partners
- The victim’s parents
- The victim’s children
- The victim’s siblings
- Another close family member, if others are unable to file
What to Expect in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Las Vegas
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit against liable individuals or entities, the following are some steps you can anticipate as you proceed:
Speaking With an Attorney
One of the first steps you should take if you want to begin a wrongful death case in Las Vegas is to consult with a wrongful death attorney. An attorney with ample experience can sit with you in a free consultation to discuss a potential case. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll have a valid case, an attorney can help determine the options available to you. Even if the attorney is unable to take your case, he or she may point you in the direction of another attorney.
If the lawyer decides to handle your case, you may begin the process of filing a claim or lawsuit. A skilled attorney will know how to properly proceed with a case and get clients started on the legal process. In addition, your representing attorney may answer any questions you have about your case and guide you through every step, ensuring that you’re never in the dark about your case and its progress.
One of the main benefits of hiring a wrongful death lawyer is the ability to focus on grieving your loved one while recovering both financially and psychologically from the victim’s death. Meanwhile, your lawyer would be able to handle all paperwork and processes to begin seeking a settlement.
Beginning an Investigation into the Case
If an attorney decides to take on your case and begin representing you, the next step would be to begin investigating the wrongful death. Your attorney, insurers, and opposing attorneys will want to determine what circumstances led to the person’s death and identify the liable parties involved.
The nature of the investigation will depend on the type of accident that led to the case. For example, if the victim’s death resulted from a car accident, a fatal car accident investigation procedure would begin. This procedure would involve collecting all evidence pertaining to the crash, including police reports, medical records, and footage of the accident scene, among other pieces of evidence. In proving liability in this case, your attorney may also use other resources, such as an accident reconstructionist.
On the other hand, if medical negligence caused the victim’s death, it might be even harder to prove liability. Your attorney might need to work with one or more medical experts to confirm whether a doctor or another medical professional failed to provide proper care for the decedent.
Generally, the specific procedure your lawyer and other parties will use to investigate your case will depend on how the death occurred and the specific parties involved.
Identifying All Liable Parties
Another critical step when building a wrongful death case will entail identifying the parties responsible for the decedent’s death.
There are many prospective people or entities that could be responsible for the accident, including drivers and others involved in car accidents, doctors or other medical professionals in malpractice cases, manufacturers or distributors of defective products, or employers whose negligence leads to a work-related accident or an accident outside of work.
Your lawyer will be able to look at all the evidence available in your case to help determine exactly who was at fault, which could include one or more parties. Your attorney will then be able to work toward holding these individuals or entities accountable for the damages they caused through their wrongful conduct.
Collecting Sufficient Evidence to Prove a Case
To succeed with a wrongful death case, you must prove liability. To prove liability, your lawyer will need to collect plenty of evidence to help support your case.
There are many pieces of evidence that attorneys could use to help you succeed with a wrongful death claim or suit. For example, your attorney could obtain medical records and bills proving the extent of the victim’s injuries and the cause of death, death certificates that confirm the cause and date of death, autopsy reports, and police reports.
Additionally, your lawyer might look for evidence like family records, witness testimony, videos or photos, tax information, and testimony from expert witnesses.
All of this evidence may go toward helping you successfully prove liability and the nature of the victim’s death, which could factor into your ability to recover full compensation.
Reaching a Settlement
Usually, wrongful death cases and other types of liability cases settle during the negotiation phase. This process will involve your lawyer negotiating with the liable party’s insurer to reach a favorable settlement. Throughout this phase, both sides will have the chance to investigate and present evidence supporting their side and negotiate the settlement.
Having a lawyer by your side during negotiations is crucial in helping you increase the chances of succeeding with your case. Insurers will assign an adjuster to investigate and negotiate your claim. While these adjusters may appear helpful and friendly, the fact is that they’re looking for anything they can to either devalue your case or deny your claim entirely. They may also make a lowball settlement offer that’s far below what your case is actually worth.
To avoid any issues that could compromise your case, it’s best to work with an attorney if you believe you have a viable wrongful death claim.
Taking the Case to Trial
If necessary, your attorney should be able to take your case to court to begin the trial process if negotiations fall through. If your attorney believes you are still entitled to a fair settlement, he or she will file a complaint with the court to request the initiation of a lawsuit.
The lawsuit itself will involve multiple steps, starting with discovery and going into pre-trial and trial phases. Depending on the nature of the case, this process can take anywhere from weeks to years. Often, the length of the trial process depends on the availability of evidence and the overall complexity of the case.
At the end of the trial, a judge or jury will choose whether to award plaintiffs the desired wrongful death settlements.
Finding Out How Much a Case Is Worth
The process of calculating wrongful death settlements can require a lot of effort and work, especially if the case involves many damages, evidence that’s difficult to obtain, and other factors complicating the case. With the help of a lawyer, you may determine exactly how much your case is worth and file a claim or lawsuit against the liable parties involved. A Las Vegas wrongful death attorney can identify the damages involved and give you a realistic estimate for what you can expect.