How are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

If you lose somebody that you love due to the actions of another individual, business, or entity in Illinois, you may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death settlement or jury verdict. In the aftermath of a successful wrongful death claim, it is important for family members and the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to know how these claims are paid out. Here, we will discuss structured settlements and lump-sum payments for wrongful death claims in Illinois.

How are wrongful death settlements paid out?

Who Pays Wrongful Death Compensation in Illinois?

When a person loses their life as a result of the negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity, family members may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Exactly where the compensation comes from will depend on the situation surrounding the wrongful death. 

For example, we usually see that these claims are paid by the insurance carrier of the at-fault party. For a vehicle accident, this means that an auto insurance carrier will likely make the payment. If the incident occurs at another person’s home, a homeowners insurance carrier may be responsible for payments. For a wrongful death arising due to a premises liability incident, the business owner’s commercial insurance policy will likely be responsible for making the wrongful death payments.

In some cases, payments may come from the assets of the at-fault party, particularly if the family is awarded compensation through a personal injury jury verdict.

Lump-Sum Payments Versus Structured Settlements

We will generally see that wrongful death settlements are paid to family members and the estate of the deceased in one of two ways:

  1. Lump-sum payment. If a wrongful death claim is settled out of court or as a result of a jury verdict, it is not uncommon for the plaintiffs to receive a lump sum payment for the total award amount. When this occurs, the personal representative of the estate or the family members will receive the damage award in a single check, which will include compensation for all economic losses as well as pain and suffering types of damages. A lump-sum payment allows family members to pay off any large medical debts or legal fees, and they can eliminate most major financial debts that have accrued as a result of the loss of life.
  2. Structured settlement. Structured settlements are another option for wrongful death settlement payouts. These types of settlements typically disperse damages through ongoing payments to the family members or the estate of the deceased. These types of settlements will provide continuous support, usually through monthly payments, for a longer period of time. This will take away the ability of family members to pay off all of their debts at once after a settlement is agreed to, and it can be very challenging to change the terms of the payout agreement at a later date.

What Type of Compensation is Available?

There are typically various types of compensation available to family members and the estate of the deceased through an Illinois wrongful death case. Wrongful death insurance settlement payments or jury verdict amounts are supposed to provide compensation for economic and non-economic losses that a family and estate sustain. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Pre-death medical bills accrued by the deceased
  • Any pain and suffering the deceased sustained after the injury but before their death
  • Loss of future earnings the deceased would have earned had they lived
  • Reasonable costs of funeral and burial
  • Loss of consortium damages for a spouse
  • Loss of guidance, comfort, care, love, and companionship of the deceased 
  • Loss of any inheritance or other benefits the deceased would have provided had they lived

The total amount of compensation available through an Illinois wrongful death claim will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular case. It’s important to consult with a Chicago wrongful death attorney to learn more.