Trials are not always necessary to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes the parties reach an amicable settlement agreement outside of the courtroom, either before or after the proceedings begin.
A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract in which one party forgoes his or her claim if the other party pays the amount set forth in the settlement. A settlement is enforceable if agreed to in a writing signed by the parties outside the courtroom or if agreed to orally before the court. The parties may then move for the court to enter judgment according to the settlement terms. California law authorizes courts to enforce such agreements.
Yet, a settlement agreement does not necessarily resolve all the claims against a particular wrongdoer. For example, the decedent’s surviving spouse might decide to settle, while the decedent’s parents — if financially dependent upon their child — might choose to go to court.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim arises under California law when a person dies because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. The survivors of the victim may file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the wrongdoer. California permits spouses, children, parents and other relatives to file wrongful death claims under certain circumstances.
It is important to understand the types of compensation available to those who choose to file a wrongful death claim. Specifically, there are two general categories of damages that survivors may seek. These are economic and noneconomic. Common economic damages awarded in wrongful death cases include medical bills, financial support (the amount the decedent would have contributed to the family over the course of his or her lifetime), and funeral and burial expenses. Noneconomic damages can be difficult to quantify. They compensate survivors for the loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, and moral support, among other nonfinancial losses.
Negotiating a Settlement Agreement
The amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the facts of the case and the policy limits of the insurance. However, claims can often settle for millions of dollars. An experienced attorney can examine the facts of your case and help you determine your best course of action. This could be to seek or accept a settlement agreement or proceed to trial.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
Moving forward after losing a loved one can be a difficult process, which is only compounded by mounting bills. If you find yourself in this situation, we advise you to reach out to a skilled attorney for help with your case.
Contact our office in Long Beach, California for a free consultation if your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. Our personal injury attorneys will help resolve your wrongful death claim and help recover compensation for your loss.