Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Surviving Members of the Victim’s Family Can Get Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement

When you lose a loved one because someone else acted wrongfully or negligently, it’s a devastating and tragic situation. In addition to grief, you often have to deal with feelings of anger at the party who caused the death, and worry about how you are going to manage in the future without the love, support, and earning power of your family member. While no amount of money can replace your loved one, receiving compensation for your losses through a wrongful death lawsuit can pay for costs related to the death and make life easier for surviving family members.

The compassionate Florence wrongful death lawyers at Ringer, Lingold, & Spencer know what you are going through and can help evaluate your individual situation and determine the best way to get you the settlement you and your family deserve. Our lawyers have over 20 years of experience practicing in courts all over the state of Mississippi, representing the best interests of clients. In addition, we use our previous experience working with a large Mississippi insurance company to benefit our clients and fight for justice and fair compensation.

How Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Work?

According to the Mississippi wrongful death statute, (Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-13), wrongful death is “the death of any person or of any unborn quick child” (in Mississippi, defined as one that the mother can feel moving, usually around 22 weeks) caused by any real, wrongful or negligent act or omission, including the following:

  • defective products such as unsafe machinery or appliances
  • “the breach of any warranty of purity” of items intended for human consumption, such as defective food or medication
  • medical malpractice
  • intentional acts, that include crimes
  • nursing home abuse and neglect.

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed in any situation where the deceased person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they lived. Settlements in wrongful death cases are based on “damages,” financial compensation which the court orders the defendant to pay to survivors.

Family members who are closest to the victim are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. All surviving members may join together in one wrongful death lawsuit, or the family member with the closest legal standing may file separately.

In order of preference, those who can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • the surviving spouse of the deceased person
  • the surviving parent or child of the deceased person
  • the surviving siblings of the deceased person
  • the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

How Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Paid Out?

In a successful lawsuit, wrongful death damage awards are paid out either to the estate or to the beneficiaries directly, depending on the situation. Damages are first used to pay creditors of the deceased, then remaining funds are paid to the heirs of the deceased.

If the claim is made by the surviving spouse, awards are split equally between the surviving spouse and the children. If there is no surviving spouse or children, a surviving parent or sibling may file a claim, and awards are divided between them.

Economic damages – In a wrongful death case, economic damages are to cover money paid or lost due to the death, including:

  • Medical expenses up to the time of death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost wages the deceased would have earned if death had not occurred
  • Property damage, such for as a vehicle destroyed in an accident
  • The deceased person’s pain and suffering
  • Loss of the deceased’s society and companionship, and guidance.

Non-economic damages – These are for the less tangible effects of the wrongful death, such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium and companionship.

Punitive DamagesAccording to Mississippi law, punitive damages may also be awarded in cases where the evidence clearly shows that the defendant acted with actual malice, fraud, or with gross negligence that shows willful, wanton, or reckless disregard for the safety of others (Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-65).

The law caps non-economic damages in most wrongful death cases at $1,000,000 and at $500,000 for medical malpractice, and it also caps amounts for punitive damages. (Miss. Code § 11-1-60). There are no caps to economic damages like medical bills, lost wages, or funeral and burial expenses.

Amounts of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Case

Several Factors Affect Compensation in a Wrongful Death Case.

While settlement amounts for wrongful death are often substantial, the amount that you may receive varies greatly depending on factors that may include:

  • The circumstances and type of negligence that caused the death
  • The severity of the wrongdoing
  • The age, earning capacity, education, and family responsibilities of the deceased
  • The jurisdiction the case is heard in, and the individual judge and jury
  • The negotiating power and skill of your wrongful death lawyer
  • The availability of insurance and assets of the defendants.

For plaintiffs to receive the full amount of an award, there must be enough money to cover the settlement. Since there may be multiple parties who contributed to the death, our attorneys would seek to identify them all, as they all may have assets and insurance policies that could go toward a settlement.

Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help You Get Compensation

Winning compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit requires proving that the defendant was negligent and at fault for causing the death by showing the following elements:

  • Duty – The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care not to cause harm.
  • Breach – The defendant’s action or inaction breached the applicable standard of care.
  • Cause – The defendant’s breach was the cause of the deceased’s death.
  • Damages – The deceased and their survivors sustained economic and non-economic losses as a result of the deceased’s death.

When you contact us, our attorneys will get to work immediately to:

  • Investigate the circumstances of your case and gather evidence such as photographs and videos
  • Interview witnesses, first responders, and doctors
  • Examine police reports and medical records
  • Utilize expert testimonies as to how the death occurred and the damages suffered
  • Negotiate aggressively with insurance companies
  • Build your case and take it to court if necessary.

At this difficult time, when working through your grief and helping your family cope with your loss, having a lawyer by your side can help. At Ringer, Lingold, & Spencer we have found that holding the party responsible for the death accountable to you can help facilitate the healing process. We always provide faithful service to our clients, working to make the wrongdoer atone for the death and fighting for the compensation that will make life easier for you and your family.

Do not delay as Mississippi has time limits for filing and we want to get evidence and find witnesses as soon as possible.

There are no fees to you unless and until we win a settlement, so call us today at (601) 845-5050.

Attorney Robert F. Lingold, Jr.

Robert F. Lingold, Jr. leads the firm’s criminal justice and personal injury practice. He is fierce when representing clients accused of a crime and fights aggressively to defend their legal rights. He is also skilled and determined when representing clients who have been injured by the negligent actions of others. [ Attorney Bio ]

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