Most claims are resolved prior to trial, either during the claims process or during litigation in proceedings such as mediation. A fair and reasonable settlement can be negotiated if your claim is properly documented and presented to the insurance adjuster. First, the case is evaluated by your attorney. When evaluating a wrongful death claim, here are some things that attorneys generally consider:
- The amount they think the case is worth. When doing this, they place a value on the pain and suffering from the accident up to death, loss of power to labor and earn money, punitive damages, compensatory damages, medical bills and loss of services. All of these are combined for the total value.
- Verdicts and settlements of cases with similar fact situations. Attorneys will also look at cases they have personally handled, discuss the fact situation with colleagues to get their opinion and also look at the records and verdicts from trials with similar fact situations in the state.
- What chance does the case have of winning at trial?
- Whether the disclosure of any personal information about the decedent will be damaging or embarrassing to the family.
- The strengths and weaknesses of the case. Some attorneys will look at the case from the plaintiff’s side as well as the defendant’s side. Mike likes to go back to his days as an insurance defense attorney and evaluate the case as if he was defending it. This perspective is invaluable.
- The amount of insurance coverage that is available. There must be enough coverage to cover the judgment you are seeking.
- Third party liability.
- The defendant’s personal and business assets.
- The other lawyer.
There is no formula for placing a value on a human life and the ultimate value of a claim. The majority of the evaluation process is experience. You should consult with someone with this experience to aid you in the evaluation of any claim.