In the days and weeks following an accident which led to the premature death of someone you love, it is understandable to want to bring the full weight of the law down on whoever was responsible for causing that accident. That may even include filing a lawsuit in civil court. However, while it is always possible that a wrongful death claim may progress all the way to a courtroom, it is much more common for these cases to conclude out of court with a private settlement agreement.

Just because this outcome is common, though, does not mean it is easy to obtain a fair and mutually agreeable settlement. Any experienced wrongful death attorney understands what is required. Your best chance of securing a favorable Philadelphia wrongful death settlement will rest with a lawyer who will work to protect your best interests throughout the entire negotiation process.

What Damages Should Be Factored into Wrongful Death Settlement Talks?

It goes without saying that money is a poor substitute for the value of a life cut unfairly short. Yet it is also the only remedy that the civil court system can provide for “damages” caused by a wrongful death. With that in mind, it is important when negotiating a wrongful death settlement in Philadelphia to consider the losses which have already occurred and the losses which that death will likely cause in the months and years to come.

Depending on the circumstances, this could include but is not strictly limited to:

  • Lost future financial support the decedent would have provided, potentially including lost future value of inheritance
  • Funeral, burial, or estate administration expenses
  • Emotional anguish, including costs of services like counseling for grieving family members
  • Lost household services and assistance
  • Lost love, companionship, advice, and “consortium”

What constitutes a “fair” value for these kinds of losses can vary dramatically from case to case. It is always worth discussing recovery options with a qualified personal injury attorney first instead of trying to negotiate a settlement alone.

Distributing the Proceeds of a Wrongful Death Settlement

Pennsylvania law allows the surviving spouse, children, or parents of a deceased person to receive compensation through a Philadelphia wrongful death settlement, but it also establishes specific rules for which family members get how much of the settlement. If the decedent has a surviving spouse but no surviving children or parents, then the spouse gets everything. If the decedent had only surviving children or only surviving parents, those beneficiaries would split the settlement money evenly between them.

Finally, if a decedent leaves behind both a spouse and children, the spouse gets the first $30,000 of the settlement plus 50 percent of whatever amount remains after that $30,000 is taken on, and the children evenly split the rest. The same broad rule applies if a decedent leaves behind a surviving spouse and parents, but no children.

Learn More About Wrongful Death Settlements from a Philadelphia Attorney

Ideally, no one would ever have to go through multiple rounds of negotiations with insurance companies to assign a financial value to the life of a loved one. Unfortunately, this exact scenario plays out across Pennsylvania more often than you might think. It is critical to be firm and detailed with your claim for damages so that your family is set up for the future.

You have help available with getting fair Philadelphia wrongful death settlements from knowledgeable and compassionate legal professionals. Call the Marrone Law Firm, LLC today for a free, confidential consultation.