When pursuing a wrongful death claim, it's normal for a client to think about the possibility of settling. No wrongful death attorney can tell you for sure that your claim will be settled. However, there are a few factors a wrongful death lawyer can point to that may indicate how likely a settlement is.
The Defendant Has Insurance
This is a major factor because insurance claims adjusters are frequently more inclined to settle cases than self-insured defendants. A claims adjuster comes at a case initially with one goal: to determine whether the claim is valid enough to hold up in court. If the case seems likely to hold water in a court of law, the adjuster than moves on to determining what type of settlement is typical for a case that's similar to the one in question. A settlement offer is then conveyed to the claimant's wrongful death attorney.
As long as the two sides aren't far apart on a settlement offer, there's a decent chance an agreement is reachable. Negotiations may take some time, but a wrongful death lawyer will tell a client when they feel it's time to accept or break off negotiations and sue. Generally, the presence of an insurance company in a case is a good thing in terms of whether a settlement might be on the table.
A Detailed Claim
One major argument for hiring a wrongful death lawyer is that claims are usually bolstered by documentation. A claim is typically started when an attorney sends a demand letter to the at-fault party and their insurance company if they have one.
Presenting details in a readable format is critical for advancing a claim. This means presenting compelling and explanatory details such as reports from doctors, police officers, first responders, and expert witnesses. By painting a clear and evidence-based picture of what happened, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to encourage a defendant to settle.
Solid Legal Standing
It's important that no questions about your legal right to sue exist. Most very close relatives of the deceased have legal standing. This covers spouses, dependant children, and parents of minor children.
Most folks who are less closely related to the deceased, such as siblings or parents of adult children, will only have standing if there's no one else closer in relation available to pursue a claim. To advance this sort of claim, your wrongful death attorney will likely have to document that you are the closest living relative.