There is no exact standard for valuing a wrongful death claim, and any lawyer who tells you that the case is worth exactly x dollars is simply incorrect. There’s an art and a science to valuing wrongful death claims. The claims are brought on behalf of the survivors of the decedent. It may be a surviving spouse. It may be natural children. It may be dependents, minor dependents. Each of their claims … The value of each of their claims depends upon how a jury would value their losses. Both economic losses and non-economic losses like the loss of the guidance, and comfort, and attentions of a loved one who’s lost through wrongful death.
Some have said that the value of a wrongful death claim is defined by what the defendant or its insurance company will pay. Well, if they don’t pay a reasonable sum, then the case has to be tried in front of a jury. That’s the great thing about our jury system. Juries try to do the right thing and award adequate, full and adequate, compensation for wrongful deaths. I recovered as much as fifty million dollars for families in wrongful death cases and as little as a hundred thousand, so it really depends on the case. Whether the decedent was contributorily negligent is a factor to consider as well. The strength of liability and, again, the strength of the damages. How much lost earnings, known as loss of net accumulations, has been lost as a result of the decedent’s death.