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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

If you have lost a loved one because of the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, knowing that you can recover for your loss might not be enough. You might also want to understand how wrongful death settlements are paid out and who receives them. To get an understanding of these points, read further.

In an "action for wrongful death", the plaintiff is typically the personal representative of the decedent's estate. The plaintiff and other family members are allowed to pursue legal damages against the at-fault party or their insurer. On the other hand, in a criminal prosecution for wrongful death (which is called a homicide such as first degree or second-degree murder), the action is brought by the district attorney against the at-fault defendant for causing the death of the loved one.

Time For Compensation Of The Initial Settlements

After receiving a wrongful death settlement/award, it is typical for families to receive compensation within a month after the initial settlement. A major reason for this is that law firms will want to invest the money into financial instruments that guarantee a reasonable rate of return on their investments. Once those returns are realized, they will pass down some (or all) of those gains to the decedent's next-of-kin, which includes surviving family members.

Main Types Of Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims are based on the negligence or intentional wrongdoing of the defendant. The most common types of personal injury cases that involve wrongful death claims include car accidents, workplace injuries/fatalities, medical malpractice, defective products (medication), hazardous conditions in the environment (contamination), and civil rights violations.

Major Categories Of Wrongful Death Claims

Intentional Wrongful Death

Any death caused by another person or entity's intentional and wrongful conduct will give rise to a claim for negligence and/or wrongful death. This type of wrongful death action is possible as long as the lawsuit is brought within the appropriate prescriptive period (also known as the statute of limitations in some states). The prescriptive period or the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions vary from state to state. It must also include proof from the decedent's survivors that the deceased victim's death approximately caused their emotional and financial injuries.

Accidental Wrongful Death

If a person dies due to someone else's negligence, this is considered an accidental, wrongful death. In such cases, the deceased's family members have legal rights they can pursue, including financial compensation for their losses.

Loss Of Consortium

If a family member is killed due to the intentional or negligent conduct of another person or entity, their spouse may claim a loss of consortium. It means they have the right to claim damages for loss of emotional, physical and financial support. Damages for wrongful death are intended to compensate the decedent's beneficiaries for their loss, following the victim's death. Elements of damages for wrongful death include loss of love and affection, loss of services, loss of support, medical expenses and funeral expenses. In order to establish a claim for loss of consortium, a claimant must factually prove the defendant's liability, the damage suffered by the decedent, and his or her loss of consortium damages. An award for loss of consortium is properly made by a spouse where there has been some measurable or compensable loss, such as loss of love and affection, society and companionship, sexual relations, right of performance of material services, right of support, aid and assistance, and felicity. Loss of consortium, in the context of the parent/child relationship, means loss of the aid, assistance and companionship of the child, or loss of affection, society and service.

Minors/Incapacitated Persons

When the deceased leaves minor children behind, their parents may claim bring wrongful death claims on behalf of their children.

Loss Of Parental Care/Nurture

If wrongfully killed, the parents of minor children may have a wrongful death claim on behalf of their surviving children.

Our Firm

At the Law Office of Gaynell Williams, L.L.C., we have the experience you need to fight for the compensation you deserve for not only the costs you’ve incurred, but for the pain and suffering you and your family may have suffered as a result of the negligence of someone else such as in a wrongful death claim. We will search for every possible source of financial restitution, be it through insurance settlements, personal injury claims, arbitration, mediation, or litigation. Our goal is to work with you so that you receive compensation for the pain and suffering and financial costs you have been burdened with after a serious accident so that you can focus on what is most important – healing and getting on with the rest of your life.


Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.

This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you.

© 2021 Gaynell Williams

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