Who Pays for a Wrongful Death Settlement?
A wrongful death claim can be filed against any party that caused your loved one’s untimely death in an accident that should have been avoided. If the claim is successful, then various damages can be paid to the deceased’s surviving family members and estate, like funeral costs, final medical care costs, and loss of companionship damages. Where does the money in a wrongful death claim come from, though? In most cases, the money is provided by an insurance company.
Insurance Companies Usually Foot the Bill
For wrongful death claims and personal injury claims alike, the money paid to a claimant or plaintiff in a successful case is usually paid by an insurance company due to the existence of one policy or another. For example, if someone loses their life in a car accident, then the auto insurance company that sold a policy to the liable driver will be the one that pays for the damages.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand what insurance policy applies to a wrongful death claim due to the nature of the fatal accident. Imagine that someone fell down the stairs in an apartment complex and passed away from complications caused by their injuries. What insurance policies, if any, work for that situation? A wrongful death attorney can help you uncover insurance policies to file against.
Applicable insurance policies held by the liable party in your wrongful death claim could include:
- Auto insurance
- Homeowner insurance
- Renter insurance
- Commercial property owner insurance
- Medical malpractice insurance
- Individually purchased insurance
The bottom line is that there is usually some type of insurance that applies to most situations. It is only a matter of identifying it and filing against it.
Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Filed Without Insurance?
What happens if the liable party did not have any sort of applicable insurance policy that could pay for the damages related to the wrongful death? Do you lose the right to file a claim or lawsuit?
When the liable person does not have any insurance, you might be forced to file a claim against them and them alone. You will be demanding money from their personal finances, savings, and assets, which might not be much. Because the average person does not have enough money to pay for even a fraction of the damages owed through a wrongful death claim, courts will sometimes not allow a significant recovery against such a defendant. Or a wrongful death attorney will not work on such a claim because they are paid by contingency fees, and they cannot be paid if the defendant has no money to give.
Don’t decide for the liable party that they can’t pay you anything because they don’t have insurance, though. You should always consult with a wrongful death lawyer about your options first. They might be able to find an insurance policy that does apply that neither you nor the liable party knew about. For example, the insurance policy held by a family member could apply if their name is also on the title of a vehicle that was involved in the fatal collision.