If you lost a loved one because someone else was careless or negligent, you probably are feeling a range of emotions.
Grief, anger, and helplessness are common and understandable. You are probably also dealing with unexpected expenses stemming from your loved one’s accident and death.
A wrongful death settlement won’t cure your sadness or anger, but it can help you get relief from some of the financial burdens brought on by it.
You may also receive some compensation for your suffering. At the very least, a wrongful death settlement can take some of the weight of the expenses off your shoulder while you and your family deal with your loss.
At this point, you are probably wondering, How much is the average wrongful death settlement? Unfortunately, there isn’t really such a thing as average wrongful death settlements in Arkansas—or anywhere for that matter.
A typical wrongful death settlement depends on so many factors—such as the severity of the injuries, the deceased’s age and lifestyle, the identity of the defendant, and insurance coverage—that it’s nearly impossible to arrive at an average settlement. In the end, wrongful death settlements in Arkansas depend on the individual facts of the matter, and each case is unique.
What Is Wrongful Death?
An Arkansas wrongful death lawsuit is meant to compensate the deceased’s family members for their losses and expenses stemming from their loved one’s death. Just about any incident giving rise to a personal injury claim can lead to a wrongful death action—provided the victim died because of their injuries. Common causes of personal injury and wrongful death claims include:
- Car or truck accidents;
- Medical malpractice;
- Construction accidents;
- Premises liability incidents; and
- Toxic torts, such as illnesses from asbestos exposure.
An experienced Arkansas personal injury attorney should also be able to help you with your wrongful death claim.
Basics of Wrongful Death Settlements in Arkansas
In Arkansas, the person that must bring a wrongful death lawsuit is the deceased’s estate representative. If the person has no estate, the lawful heirs can file the claim. Without a will, the heirs are typically the person’s spouse, children, or parents. These individuals have three years from the date of the person’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Let a Wrongful Death Attorney Negotiate Your Claim
It is essential to contact an Arkansas wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. As time passes, it can become more challenging to prove your claim because you can lose critical evidence as time passes.
It is also crucial that you not try to negotiate a settlement with the defendants yourself. In a wrongful death settlement, you’ll most likely be dealing with insurance companies. These companies have their own attorneys and legal teams to fight the claim.
This might seem unfair, but insurance companies are businesses that want to keep as much profit for themselves as possible. Let your attorney contend with the insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that the insurers do not take advantage of your lack of experience in this respect.
What Damages Are Included in the Average Wrongful Death Settlement Payout?
Wrongful death settlements include compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. In Arkansas, the law separates these claims into the estate claim and the family claim. The estate claim seeks compensation for losses the deceased suffered, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Medical bills for injuries related to the accident;
- Pain and suffering the person endured; and
- Lost value of the remainder of the person’s life, including wages they would have earned.
The family claim seeks compensation on behalf of the surviving family members for the losses they suffered as a result of the person’s death, including:
- Loss of financial support;
- Loss of household services;
- Loss of benefits from the deceased’s investments; and
- Loss of companionship, comfort, and guidance.
Family claims are paid directly to the family members. None of these damages become part of the estate’s taxable assets. Arkansas allocates the amount that each family member can claim based on their relationship to the deceased.
The family member can only claim damages for which they have a personal claim. A spouse, child, or other beneficiary will likely have more entitlement than a sibling or other, less immediate family member.
You should avoid trying to calculate your damages using a wrongful death settlement calculator. These formulas do not account for the specific circumstances of your claim, and you will not get an accurate estimate. An Arkansas wrongful death attorney can help you figure out what damages you can claim and for what amount.
Factors Affecting a Wrongful Death Settlement
Circumstances that might affect the amount of recovery possible in a wrongful death settlement include the following:
- The decedent’s income and profession;
- Their age—claims are higher when the person is younger;
- How many people were financially dependent on the person, such as children or a spouse; and
- The circumstances of their death.
Arkansas has no cap on the amount of damages someone can recover in a wrongful death settlement. However, the decedent’s comparative fault also plays a significant role in the amount of compensation possible. In Arkansas, the accident victim must be less responsible for the accident than the defendant. The damages will be reduced by the percentage of the decedent’s fault.
The Harris Law Firm Has the Wrongful Death Advocates You Need
Losing your loved one is heartbreaking, and nobody wants to think about finances while they are grieving. No amount of money can bring your loved one back or undo your hurt. However, you might be eligible for compensation for your losses to manage the steep costs associated with your loved one’s death and burial.
The Harris Law Firm can help you with your wrongful death claim. We can evaluate your case, explain your best legal options, and estimate your claim’s financial value. Please contact us to schedule a consultation and speak with one of our attorneys about your case.