No Fee Until We Collect
Call Today

Wrongful Death Settlements

Wrongful Death Settlements

Settlements and Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death settlements can help ease the financial burden faced my surviving family. Wrongful death actions are complicated, as the wrongful acts of several parties may have contributed to an individual’s death. Pre-trial, out of court settlements are common in wrongful death cases, because most defendants want to avoid the publicity of having caused a death. When such out-of-court settlements occur, a reduction of the wrongful death damages award issued by a judge or jury will also occur. Thus, if a plaintiff settles a claim against one defendant, the plaintiff’s recovery from any other defendant is thereby reduced. Additionally, the plaintiff’s release of one defendant frees that defendant from liability to contribute to any other defendant, and waives his/her claim for any contribution from co-defendants. In other words, the released defendant is out of the action, and the remaining defendant(s) will pay no more than their comparative share of the culpable conduct as found by the jury. While all of this information may seem overwhelming, an attorney experienced in wrongful death law can help make sense of legal jargon and complexities and guide you through the complicated legal maze of a wrongful death lawsuit.

As a procedural matter, the court takes any evidence of a payment to or settlement with another party, which is offered by a defendant in mitigation of that defendant’s own liability for damages. The court then deducts the proper amount, if any, from the jury’s award. Thus, the defendant in a wrongful death action has the burden of proving that a plaintiff has settled with another party. In the end, if the defendant is able to prove the existence of such a payment, then the court must reduce the award by the appropriate amount.

The law governing wrongful death actions also provides for the reduction of a damages award in proportion to any payments to the plaintiff from “collateral sources.” A collateral source may include insurance (except life insurance), Social Security, workers’ compensation, or employee benefit programs. However, a reduction in the damages award is appropriate in only two situations: 1) in an action for medical malpractice; and, 2) an action by a public employee against his employer or fellow worker for personal injury or wrongful death.

In a medical malpractice action, if the court finds there was a payment from a collateral source, then the court must reduce the damages award by the amount of the payment minus the amount the plaintiff paid in premiums for such benefits in the two years before the action accrued, minus the projected future cost to the plaintiff of maintaining his or her benefits.

Similarly, a reduction in the damages awarded may occur in a wrongful death and/or personal injury action by a public employee against a public employer, who is subject to indemnification when the injury occurs while the plaintiff was acting within the scope of his employment. In such a case, the court must reduce the award for payments from collateral sources provided or paid for by the public employer. This includes paid sick leave, medical benefits, death benefits, dependent benefits, a disability retirement allowance, and Social Security (except those benefits provided under title XVIII of the Social Security Act). However, these collateral sources do not include those entitled by law to a lien against the plaintiff’s recovery. If the court finds such a payment from a collateral source, then the court must reduce the award by that amount minus the amount the public employee contributed for that benefit.

Working With a Wrongful Death Attorney

If you believe that you have a wrongful death claim based on the loss of a loved one, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney today. A knowledgeable and skillful lawyer can work with you to help alleviate at least some loss experienced at this tragic time in your life.

Additional Articles on Illinois Wrongful Death Claims

Table of Contents

If you have been injured:

Call now:

Recent posts

Protecting the rights of injured people since 1940.

Call now:

Latest posts:

An elderly wrapping her arm with a bandage in her kitchen. Concept of how long does a personal injury lawsuit take
Personal Injury
Howard Ankin

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

How long a personal injury lawsuit takes depends on the nature of the accident and the cooperativeness of the liable party. Personal injury lawsuits involve many steps that can seem to drag on forever. Various factors regarding the case can slow the process.

Businessman and lawyer man discussing legal matters and signing contract papers. Concept of what is a civil lawsuit
Personal Injury
Howard Ankin

What Is a Civil Lawsuit?

While criminal lawsuits involve a representative of the state initiating a lawsuit alleging criminal acts, civil lawsuits in Chicago are typically private cases that allow for disputes between individuals or entities. There are different types of civil lawsuits that people or organizations may file if they believe the defendant owed them a legal duty that they failed to provide.