Wrongful DeathSettlement Conferences: Negotiating Compensation in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

May 30, 20240

When a loved one dies due to another party’s negligence or misconduct, the surviving family members may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, taking a case like this to trial can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally taxing. Many plaintiffs and defendants ultimately opt to negotiate a settlement agreement rather than proceed to a trial. Settlement conferences provide an opportunity for both sides to discuss potential settlement terms with the guidance of an impartial mediator.

The Purpose of Settlement Conferences

The primary goal of settlement conferences is to reach an agreement on the compensation amount that the defendant will pay the plaintiff. This helps the parties avoid a lengthy and uncertain jury trial. Settlement conferences are typically requested by one or both parties when they feel there is potential for agreement. They may also be ordered by the judge managing the case.

Settlement conferences provide a more informal setting than the courtroom. The mediator oversees the negotiations and tries to guide the parties toward a satisfactory settlement but does not have authority to impose binding terms. Anything discussed during a settlement conference cannot be shared with the jury if the case ultimately goes to trial. This encourages open and honest negotiations between the two sides.

Key Factors in Calculating Settlement Amounts

There are several key factors taken into account when plaintiffs and defendants negotiate potential settlement amounts:

Economic Damages: Economic damages in a wrongful death case compensate the family for tangible financial losses, like the deceased’s lost income and benefits, medical expenses, and funeral costs. Documented evidence helps establish reasonable estimates for these damages.

Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages account for harder-to-quantify losses like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or loss of parental guidance. The plaintiff’s testimony can establish these damages.

Comparable Settlements and Verdicts: Lawyers will assess the compensation awarded in similar cases to estimate an appropriate settlement range. Recent jury verdicts provide useful comparison points.

Strength of Evidence: The relative strength of each side’s case and key evidence impacts settlement negotiations. Weaker evidence reduces a plaintiff’s leverage in demanding higher damages.

Costs of Trial: Taking a case to trial incurs significant legal fees and other costs for both sides. A settlement avoids these costs, which is factored into negotiation strategies.

Limits on Damages: Some states cap the amount that can be awarded for certain damages like pain and suffering. This puts a limit on potential jury awards and settlement amounts.

Apportionment of Liability: If there is evidence the plaintiff or deceased contributed to the circumstances, the defendant’s share of liability may be reduced. This discount on overall damages would be reflected in settlement talks.

Reaching a Settlement Agreement

Settlement conferences provide a mediated space for the plaintiff and defendant to negotiate until a satisfactory dollar amount is agreed upon. The settlement agreement will stipulate that accepting this payment releases the defendant from further liability.

Once financial terms are settled, the agreement typically includes non-monetary provisions as well. For example, the defendant may request confidentiality around the settlement amount or facts of the case. The plaintiff may request a written apology or commitment to change policies to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Most wrongful death cases settle out of court, relieving families from the time and stress of a trial. However, if a settlement conference fails to produce an agreement, the case proceeds to trial as scheduled. An experienced wrongful death attorney can advise on whether to keep negotiating or take the case before a jury. They assist at every stage of reaching a fair settlement or building a strong case for trial.

Seeking Justice After Your Loss

The untimely death of a loved one is devastating. When that loss was preventable and caused by another’s actions, the grief is even more profound. Pursuing compensation and justice through a wrongful death lawsuit is a complex process. An attorney experienced in these cases can handle the legal matters while you focus on healing and honoring your loved one’s memory. If settlement talks reach an impasse, a skilled litigator can build and argue your case in front of a jury. Consider consulting a qualified wrongful death lawyer from Daneil T Pagliarini AAL to protect your rights following this immense loss. With compassion and expertise, we can help guide you on the long road to justice.

You can visit our office at 700 Bishop St, Ste 2100, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (808) 745-1592.

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