What are My Options for Settling a California Wrongful Death Case?
If a loved one is killed because of the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another party, you might know that you have rights under California law. A wrongful death claim is a legal remedy for survivors, which is reassuring for the families of the thousands of deceased victims. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 225,000 people are killed every year because of accidental, fatal injuries. Plus, another 26,000 victims are killed due to intentional conduct, such as criminal assault, attacks, and shootings.
A wrongful death case is similar to other personal injury claims, except that the victim passed away instead of merely getting hurt. As such, settlement is always an option to resolve your case without going to court. There are numerous benefits to agreements on damages, but there are also different ways of handling settlement. You should consult with an Oakland wrongful death attorney about the details, but some background is helpful.
Lump Sum Payment: Once you have agreed on a settlement amount, one alternative for receiving payment is through a one-time, lump sum payment. With most wrongful death claims, you are dealing with an insurance company that will be sending the check. The pros of a lump sum are that you may have significant bills to cover after missing out on the financial contributions the deceased person would have provided. On the downside, some recipients can be overwhelmed by a large lump sum payment. They may not spend it wisely, leading to financial difficulties down the road.
Installment Payment Plans: The insurance company may offer to pay your settlement amount in installments, usually through an annuity arrangement. You receive payments on a monthly basis in a set amount, up to the settlement value.
- Pros: With installments, you can better plan and budget for your household because you have regular monthly income.
- Cons: The money is yours, yet you cannot access the entire value. If you have large bills or want to make a large purchase, you have to save monthly payments. You could sell the annuity to get a lump sum, but you will lose a percentage of the settlement.
Benefits of Settling: Even when you believe you deserve more in terms of compensation, settlement may be a wise option for various reasons:
- Settling is certainty, since the defendant signs a binding agreement to pay.
- You do not risk the jury disagreeing with your claims, which means a loss at trial.
- Litigation can take several months or even years, during which time your losses are mounting.
- You will not have to testify in court, which can be intimidating for some.
Our Oakland Wrongful Death Lawyers Will Counsel You on Settlement
It is important to get advice from legal counsel when considering your options and negotiating settlement, and you can trust Venardi Zurada, LLP to guide you through the process. To learn more please contact our offices in Oakland or Walnut Creek, CA. We can set up a free case evaluation with a skilled California wrongful death attorney.