7 Keys to Negotiating a Settlement in a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death lawsuits are a necessity because wrongful deaths inflict unimaginable emotional pain and financial hardship on the surviving loved ones. During such times, negotiating a settlement becomes a crucial step in seeking justice and obtaining financial reparation. As you look for the best wrongful death lawyer in Houston, it’s important to understand the settlement process, as this can contribute to a successful outcome.


7 Keys to Negotiating a Settlement in a Wrongful Death Case

1. Determine the Defendants in Your Case

Before filing a wrongful death claim and negotiating a settlement, you need to know who to sue. In some cases, there are multiple defendants, and naming them all is pivotal for a successful legal claim. Depending on the circumstances, potential defendants could include individuals, employers, manufacturers, businesses, and government agencies.

For example, if a person dies in a workplace accident due to defective equipment, you may be able to sue both the employer and an equipment manufacturer for wrongful death. Learn more here about workplace fatalities and what to do if your loved one gets injured and dies on the job. 


2. Assess the Value of Your Claim

When filing a wrongful death claim with the liable party’s insurance, you should typically quote a sum that covers all the losses incurred after your loved one’s death. To do this, you must first assess the damages resulting from the loss of your loved one. Here are the common damages in a wrongful death case:


  • The deceased’s lost earnings
  • Medical and funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of services and support

Take your time and quantify these damages before writing a demand letter. However, don’t take too long to take action. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Texas is two years from the date of the deceased’s death.


3. Gather Comprehensive Evidence

A robust body of evidence is the backbone of a strong wrongful death claim. It also determines how much you will be awarded for the loss of your loved one. Your evidence may include the following:


  • Detailed medical records
  • Death certificate
  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Pictures of the accident scene
  • Workplace memos
  • Documents and evidence proving negligence
  • Financial statements showing the deceased’s income

If you are seeking damages like loss of support or companionship, you should gather evidence of financial losses to the family as well. A well-organized and comprehensive collection of evidence can speed up the negotiation process and improve the outcome of your case.


4. Retain a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Houston

Insurance adjusters deal with numerous personal injury and wrongful death claims every year. In 2021 alone, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries reported in the U.S. These statistics do not even include wrongful deaths caused by non-work-related car crashes, medical negligence, defective products, or premises liability. With so many claims to handle, insurance adjusters have mastered the art of lowballing unsuspecting plaintiffs in settlement claims.

Going into the settlement process without legal help can hurt your case. A wrongful death lawyer can take over the case, gather the necessary evidence, represent you in negotiations, and counter the lowball offers presented by the adjuster. An experienced lawyer will know all the tactics used by adjusters, and they won’t back down until you get the rightful compensation.


5. Prepare for Negotiations

Negotiations can be mentally and emotionally draining, especially in a wrongful death case. Preparing yourself can be vital to easing the stress of the process. If you have a lawyer, you don’t have to engage the other parties during negotiations.

However, you should understand the settlement process, including the potential length and complexity of the negotiations. This will allow you to set realistic expectations and prevent you from being overwhelmed by the tactics used by the opposing side.


6. Know Your Bottom Line

Your bottom line is the absolute minimum amount you are willing to accept in a settlement. This figure should take into account all the reasonable damages in your case. Having a clear bottom line prevents you from accepting an offer that falls short of your needs.

It also provides a guidepost against which you can measure all potential settlement offers. Your lawyer can evaluate the case and assist in calculating the least amount you should accept from the opposing party.


7. Prepare to Compromise Where Necessary

Unless you intend to go to trial, compromise is important in negotiations. With over 90% of lawsuits getting settled out of court, it is evident that settlements often produce desirable outcomes for the plaintiffs. So be patient and persistent, but prepare to make compromises where necessary.

If the other party makes a reasonable settlement offer after intense negotiations, you should consider accepting it. Remember, litigation is costly and can drag on for years, so if you are getting a reasonable offer, even if it may be less than you’d like, it’s often wise to take it.

Negotiating a wrongful death settlement can be daunting, but it allows you to secure financial stability for the deceased’s dependents. With the right support and guidance from a wrongful death lawyer in Houston, you can navigate the path toward achieving a measure of justice for the loss of your loved one.

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