How Do You Calculate a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Personal Injury Attorneys » Wrongful Death Attorneys » How Do You Calculate a Wrongful Death Settlement?

After suddenly losing a loved one, it can be a very difficult time. Not only are you grieving your loss, but you may have financial hardships related to your family member’s passing. A wrongful death lawsuit is a claim for compensation from someone whose negligent actions, recklessness, or intentional acts caused the death.


    But how do you know how much your claim is worth? When is a settlement considered fair compensation? Our Las Vegas wrongful death lawyers explain.

    In Nevada, the victim’s surviving family members or a representative of the deceased person’s estate are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children are considered the “intestate heirs” and can bring a legal wrongful death claim.

    However, some victims do not have a spouse or children. In these cases, the people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit (in this order) include:

    • The victim’s parents
    • The victim’s siblings
    • The victim’s closest living family member

    Whether you choose to settle your wrongful death suit or go to trial depends on the settlement amount. The settlement should compensate for damages, which may include:

    • Final medical expenses
    • Property damage
    • Lost wages (including future value)
    • Funeral and burial costs
    • Pain and suffering
    • Loss of companionship
    • Loss of consortium
    • Loss of gifts or benefits
    • Punitive damages (if qualified)

    If the monetary value of the settlement does not fairly represent both economic and non-economic losses, you can choose to negotiate a higher payment or go to trial and present your case for more compensation.

    An experienced wrongful death lawyer can offer sound legal advice and help you fully value your damages to bring a strong claim that puts you in a better position to get a fair settlement. However, if both parties cannot reach a fair negotiated settlement, your attorney can represent you in court.

    The average settlement amount for a wrongful death claim can vary significantly depending on the circumstances. Compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis using the specific facts of the victim’s life and what happened to cause the death.

    However, wrongful death settlements are typically high because the results are often devastating for surviving family members. Amounts can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. These amounts are often distributed as a structured settlement1 that offers a steady stream of income to the victim’s family members.

    Placing a monetary value on a person’s life is incredibly difficult. However, several factors may be considered to help reach a fair amount that represents the surviving family members’ losses. These include:

    • The age of the deceased person
    • The deceased’s earning capacity
    • The deceased’s state of health
    • The deceased’s income at the time of death
    • The age and circumstances of the deceased’s dependents
    • The deceased’s education and training
    • Expenses incurred for the deceased
    • Value of lost benefits (pensions and health insurance)
    • The circumstances of the death (i.e., medical malpractice, intentional harm)

    When claiming damages, the specific amounts must be supported by objective evidence and not just an estimate. Economists and other expert witnesses can look at the deceased person’s circumstances and consider the various factors to determine a fair amount.

    According to NRS 41.0852, wrongful death compensation is awarded to surviving family members, and each legal heir can make a case for a fair amount. This is done by proving connections to the deceased and how the death has affected that person’s life.

    In general, though, the most significant portion of the settlement will go to the victim’s spouse or domestic partner. The surviving children then get the next largest share, with the remaining amount being divided between other beneficiaries who can show they have suffered losses due to the victim’s death.

    According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)3, most wrongful death settlement payments are non-taxable, provided they are compensatory. This means that the compensation is intended to account for the pain and suffering experienced by the case. If the damages are punitive or meant to punish the person responsible for the death, the IRS may tax the punitive damages.

    It is essential that any award clearly sets forth whether the damages are compensatory or punitive. This will help resolve any confusion when it comes to reporting to the IRS. Anyone who may receive a wrongful death settlement should consult with an attorney and accountant to review the tax repercussions of any settlement proposal before it is accepted.

    In the case of Galdamez v. U-HAUL CO. OF PENNSYLVANIA, 168 A. 3d 1257 (2017)4 resulted in a historic pre-trial settlement of $160 million in 20185. Olga Galdamez and her daughter died from burns after her food truck exploded due to a leaking propane tank.

    Investigators found that Galdamez brought the propane tanks to a U-Haul subsidiary to be filled. However, the tanks were outdated, did not have the required safety valves, and were filled incorrectly. According to the evidence, these mistakes directly led to the victims’ deaths.

    In order to be awarded compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, the claimant must prove the following elements of the case:

    1. Duty of care
    2. Breach of duty
    3. Causation
    4. Damages

    Wrongful death lawyers have the skills and experience to prove these elements, fully value your claim, and make a strong case for compensation. An attorney will also negotiate settlement offers and ensure the insurance companies don’t bully you into an unfair resolution.

    While a personal injury attorney can’t guarantee successful results, your chances of recovering damages are significantly improved if you have a knowledgeable attorney to represent you. Contact our team to learn how we can help.

    Call (702) 382-0000 for a Free Consultation


    1Byerly, C. J. (9 February 2022). Wrongful Death Claims and Settlements. Retrieved 22 March 2022.

    2NRS 41.085

    3IRS Rule 1.104-1

    4Galdamez v. U-HAUL CO. OF PENNSYLVANIA, 168 A. 3d 1257 (2017)

    5Moselle, A. (27 June 2018). Historic settlement for victims of Philly food truck explosion. Retrieved 22 March 2022.

    Legal Disclaimer

    This webpage is not intended to be an advertisement or solicitation. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Material contained in our website is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice or solicitation of legal services.

    Transmission of information from this site is not intended to create, and its receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between Adam S. Kutner and the user of this site. In the event that any information on this web site does not conform fully with regulations in any jurisdiction, this law firm will not accept representation based on that information.

    Attorney David L. Bembas Esq
    Adam S. Kutner

    With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.

    Call (702) 382-0000 for a Free Consultation

    Adam Kutner is a Top 100 Trial Lawyer with Experience and Expertise that Will Benefit You

    Call us today at (702) 382-0000 anytime to schedule a free consultation. We will work to get you the maximum settlement as quickly as possible.

    Attorney Bryan D. Ali Esq
    Bryan D. Ali,

    Meet More Associate Attorneys

    Adam Kutner Reviews & Testimonials

    I needed an attorney because I couldn’t deal with the accident on my own, so I needed someone else’s opinion about my accident.

    Well I heard about Adam Kutner through an associate of mine and I chose to seek him because I heard of him before also, so I thought he would be the best option for me.

    I was very happy with my settlement and it came quicker than I thought, in just a couple months I received a check in the mail.

    When I recommend Adam Kutner I would tell them that the settlement comes very quickly, and he is very helpful with transportation and whatever else you may need.”

    – Deborah Banks. 5/5 Stars

    Real Client Testimonial: Deborah Banks

    View Details


      Home Visits Are Available

      Call Now for Details