An accident victim’s family members typically originate a wrongful death lawsuit. When the parties agree to settle the matter, the amount will be paid according to the losses they suffered. If this process is not managed properly, the individuals who are entitled to recover damages might not receive their full share. Payments might be delayed or tied up by other claims against the accident victim.

The wrongful death lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman represent New York and New Jersey accident victims and their families. We help them to help recover the largest available wrongful death settlements and to manage the payouts of those settlements as quickly and as efficiently as is possible.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Determined?

When someone dies due to a car crash, a slip and fall accident, or some other event— the liable party and their insurance carriers will be responsible for the victim’s medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other wrongful death damages. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer will marshal all of the facts of the case to negotiate the largest available settlement. If it cannot be negotiated, the plaintiff’s attorney will argue the matter in front of a jury.

Which Parties Receive Wrongful Death Payments?

The final settlement amount or jury award will be paid to the victim’s family members and other individuals who experienced losses– most frequently in a single lump-sum payment. In some cases, the negligent party or their insurance carriers will seek to pay out wrongful death damages as structured settlements– disbursed in regular periodic payments. The accident victim’s family should discuss these alternatives with their wrongful death attorney to determine which would give them greater damages recovery.

Are Wrongful Death Payments Subject to Taxes?

To the extent that wrongful death damages are reimbursements for physical injuries and economic losses, they are not subject to taxes. In some cases, these damages will include compensation for non-physical injuries and, in a small number of situations– punitive damages, and those are taxable. To prevent any confusion over tax liabilities, your lawyer can verify that the settlement agreement clearly defines a wrongful death award.

How Can an Accident Victim’s Survivors Optimize Their Damages Recovery?

If an accident victim did not die immediately after suffering injuries due to someone else’s negligence– a wrongful death lawyer might direct the victim’s estate to file a survival action. This would recover damages for any pain and suffering that they experienced, including other damages. These are paid into the estate and then distributed to heirs during the estate administration process. 

Family members need to pay close attention to deadlines in survival actions.  An estate representative must first be appointed to initiate that action. This means that the estate must be put into probate, and a probate court must approve the appointment of said representative before a survivor action is started. 

The statutes of limitations for survival actions in both New York and New Jersey are relatively short. Accordingly, an accident victim’s family should not hesitate to retain a wrongful death lawyer as soon as is possible after an accident or the death of an accident victim.

Contact us for a free consultation

The attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman represent the families of accident victims in Rockland and Bergen counties and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey. We help our clients to recover the largest available wrongful death damages. Please see our website or call us to schedule a private and confidential consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys.