The average wrongful death settlement is hard to pin down, as each case differs. The result of wrongful death claims depends on the circumstances of the case. Some states cap non-economic damages (sometimes referred to as pain and suffering damages) that the decedent’s family can recover.
Nebraska has no such cap on wrongful death claims. This absence of caps allows family members to seek just and comprehensive compensation for their losses.
To better understand how much the average wrongful death settlement is, we’ll need to break down various factors involved in these claims. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death lawyer can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout this process.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in Nebraska?
Nebraska defines wrongful death as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. Examples include car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents, slip and fall accidents, and dog bite attacks.
Had the deceased survived the act that caused their death, they would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking financial compensation for losses, called damages, such as medical bills, income loss, and loss of future earnings.
Since the deceased cannot file a personal injury claim, the personal representative of their estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative, sometimes called an executor, is named in a will or trust to settle the estate upon the decedent’s death.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Here’s a breakdown of wrongful death damages that plaintiffs may recover in Nebraska:
Funeral and Burial or Cremation Expenses
One of the primary components of damages in a wrongful death case is the reimbursement for reasonable funeral and burial or cremation expenses. These significant costs can provide a dignified farewell to the deceased.
You may recover compensation for any medical expenses incurred before the decedent’s death. This includes hospital bills, medication costs, and other related medical expenditures directly resulting from the wrongful act.
Compensation may include the financial impact on the deceased’s family. A wrongful death claim can recover damages for the lost income earnings of the deceased, considering potential future earnings and financial contributions to the household.
Loss of Earned Income
Beyond lost income, wrongful death claims may also account for the loss of earned income. This encompasses the contributions the deceased would have made to the family over their expected lifespan.
Loss of Comfort and Companionship
Loss of comfort and companionship is a non-economic damage that generally refers to the emotional and psychological impact on family members resulting from the death of a loved one. It recognizes that the survivors suffered not only the financial losses associated with the death but also the intangible losses related to the companionship, love, care, and guidance that the deceased provided.
Loss of Household Services
A wrongful death claim can recover the value of services the deceased provided to the household, such as childcare, homemaking, and other non-monetary contributions.
Factors Influencing Wrongful Death Settlements in Nebraska
A comprehensive understanding of the influencing factors can provide a better idea of wrongful death settlements in Nebraska.
- Statute of Limitations: Nebraska generally has a two-year statute of limitations within which you must file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, exceptions may apply that alters the time to initiate a lawsuit. If you fail to file within the allotted time, you may be barred from compensation through the court system.
- Relationship to the Deceased: Nebraska law specifies that only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim. However, the law allows the personal representative to bring a claim on behalf of the decedent’s surviving spouse and their next of kin.
- Proof of Negligence or Wrongful Conduct: To succeed in a wrongful death claim, plaintiffs must demonstrate that the death resulted from the negligence, misconduct, or wrongful act of another party. Gather evidence and establish a causal connection.
- Damages: Nebraska law allows for the recovery of medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, and loss of companionship. A wrongful death lawyer can calculate and present these damages.
- Comparative Negligence: Liability may play an essential role in a wrongful death claim. Nebraska follows a modified comparative negligence system, which means that the damages awarded can decrease if the deceased contributed to their own death.
- Expert Testimony: In some cases, expert witnesses may need to testify on the cause of death, the extent of injuries, or the cause of a specific accident. Credible expert testimony can significantly strengthen a wrongful death claim.
The Importance of Having Legal Representation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The untimely death of a loved one due to a wrongful act can leave family members emotionally wrought. Having experienced legal representation not only offers you peace of mind and space to grieve, but it may also profoundly impact the outcome of your settlement, ensuring that you and your family receive the compensation and closure you deserve.
Here are some ways a lawyer can guide family members through the legal process of a wrongful death claim:
Navigating the Legal Landscape
Wrongful death lawsuits involve a complex legal landscape, including intricate statutes, regulations, and procedures. Navigating the system without legal representation can overwhelm grieving families already burdened by loss.
Building a Compelling Case
A key role of a lawyer is to construct a compelling case that presents a clear narrative of negligence leading to the wrongful death. Wrongful death attorneys investigate the specifics of the incident, gather evidence, consult experts, and build a strong foundation for the legal argument. This approach is instrumental in persuading the court or negotiating a settlement that accurately reflects the damages.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies make wrongful death claims difficult, especially when emotions run high. Attorneys act as intermediaries between the grieving family and insurance representatives, leveraging their negotiation skills to secure a fair and just settlement.
In cases where negotiations cannot obtain fair settlements, legal representation becomes even more crucial during the trial phase. Attorneys advocate for their clients in the courtroom, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making compelling legal arguments.
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Hire a Lawyer to Guide You Through the Wrongful Death Claims Process
The untimely death of a loved one due to another party’s negligence or wrongdoing is never easy to endure. And while no amount of money will bring your loved one back, seeking compensation through a wrongful death claim can provide justice to the deceased and closure to surviving family members.
The personal injury lawyers at Berry Law are here to help you seek justice and compensation during this difficult time. Contact us today for your free consultation and discuss the legal options available to you and your family.