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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

The accidental death of a beloved family member is traumatic. You can never replace their love and companionship, but the attorneys at Salamati Law in Los Angeles can help you to recover damages to compensate for the financial hardship that ensues in a wrongful death.

Our lawyers believe that when you settle this type of lawsuit, the payment of settlement funds should not cause you or other survivors any further hardship.  Accordingly, we are committed to helping our clients to understand the different structures that may be available for you and your family.

What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit will include claims for damages based on personal injuries due to another party’s negligence, as well as the suffering and losses experienced by the victim’s survivors. Those damages might include reimbursement for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.

What Parties Are Entitled to Receive Damages?

It’s crucial to understand who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. The California Code of Civil Procedure allows recovery of wrongful death damages by a victim’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. If the parties that are entitled to recover damages are unable to agree on how the aggregate sum of damages should be allocated, the court will divide damages as a function of each party’s economic circumstances. 

Are Damages Paid All at Once?

Settlements are generally paid out in one of two manners when a wrongful death lawsuit is settled:

  • Most frequently, the plaintiffs will receive a lump sum payment from the negligent party or that party’s insurers.
  • Alternately, the plaintiffs might agree to accept a structured settlement that pays a certain amount on a regular schedule for several years.

Lump-sum payments provide greater flexibility, particularly when the survivors need to pay funeral and other expenses following the death. Structured settlements offer a definite long-term stream of payments. A party that agrees to a structured settlement, however, should not assume that it can be changed or modified.

Survivors should discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each of these alternatives with our team of Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers before agreeing to any final payment structure.

Are Wrongful Death Damages Payments Taxable?

Under current IRS rules, payments that are characterized as compensatory damages for injuries and pain and suffering are non-taxable.  Alternately, payments that are characterized as punitive damages, as a replacement for lost wages, or as compensation for emotional distress will be subject to taxation.

You can count on our team to negotiate a settlement that minimizes the tax impact on the surviving members of the family.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlement Damages Allocated When They Are Paid into the Victim’s Estate?  

If the administrator or representative of the victim’s estate files a wrongful death lawsuit, settlement funds will be paid into the estate and will be distributed according to the victim’s will and other trust and estate mechanisms. If any claims were filed against the estate, for example, from medical service providers, the settlement may be used to pay those claims.

Estate payments might also be subject to taxes if those payments exceed certain limits to the victim’s heirs.  Again, an experienced lawyer will consider all of these factors before filing a lawsuit.

Call the Salamati Law Firm in Los Angeles for Representation in a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at the Salamati Law Firm offer complimentary consultations for wrongful death lawsuits arising from both negligent and intentional acts in California. We are sensitive to the emotional upheaval that accompanies the wrongful death of a family member, and we work tirelessly to settle these claims and to maximize damages payments to survivors with a minimum of additional stress or trauma.

Please see our website or call our Los Angeles offices directly if a member of your family has died in a California accident as a result of another person’s negligence or malfeasance.

If you choose to retain our services and we agree to accept your case, we will fight tirelessly to recover the damages that you and your family deserve, and we will apply our many years of knowledge and experience in wrongful death cases to structure settlements in ways that give you the most favorable payment options.

No Obligation, No Fees Guaranteed, Unless We Win

We are committed to negotiate your case aggressively, strategically and creatively. Personal injury lawsuits are retained on a contingency fee agreement, and plaintiffs will pay no legal fees unless the firm is able to recover damages on your behalf.

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