Survival claims are claims that are typically brought on by surviving family members on behalf of the decedent by the decedent’s personal representative (who is often a lawyer that is representing the surviving family). This is done in the hopes of recovering damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover. While personal injury wrongful death laws differ from state to state, an award settlement is often paid into the deceased’s estate and not to specific individuals even though the individuals in a family made up the party that filed the claim. This legislature allows for the estate to recover on behalf of a decedent and was developed so that surviving family members can try to hold the perpetrator of their loved ones death accountable for his or her actions.
Settlements Outside of Court
While everybody’s situation and circumstances are unique to, there can be many advantages to settling a case as opposed to going to trial with it. One of these reasons is that even though a family and their lawyer are convinced about how much their case is worth, there is no guarantee of a positive outcome for them in a case that is decided by a judge or a jury. As well, in a trial it is the judge or the jury that determines the amount of compensation the injured person (in this case, the surviving family or the deceased person’s estate) is awarded. There is no guarantee that a judge or a jury is going to award the plaintiff/s, nor is there any guarantee that in the event that the judge or jury decides in favor of the plaintiff that the amount is going to be more than the original settlement offer.
Many people look at a settlement offer as more desirable than going to trial even though there is a possibility that a trial will result in a higher award amount. The old adage, a bird in hand is better than two in the bush can be an apropos description for why many people choose to take a settlement offer over going to trial. Even though the settlement amount for a DC wrongful death case may be lower than what a court case will potentially award, the guarantee of some amount of money may be worth more to the injured party than a higher award that has no guarantee.
In addition to the guarantee of some amount of money, a settlement in a DC wrongful death case can be more cost and time effective for a grieving family than it would be to take their case to court. Many people assume that a lawyer is the reason why a wrongful death case winds up costing money that ultimately could have gone to the surviving family. If a case has to be tried it usually results in many expenditures such as court fees and expert witness costs that are taken out of the award. So even though a judge or a jury might award a higher amount than a settlement offer, the costs of taking the claim to court can leave the surviving family (or the deceased’s estate) with less money.
If you are unsure of whether or not you should seek or accept a settlement in a DC wrongful death case, the highly rated legal team at Cohen & Cohen is available to give you a free case consultation and evaluation.