Wrongful Death Insurance Benefits
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The unexpected death of a loved one can shake a family to its core. In addition to battling the various stages of grief, surviving family members must also deal with the financial consequences of the loss. Funeral expenses, hospital bills, and other costs can add up quickly. In certain cases, a wrongful death cause of action may be available to help recover compensation on behalf of the deceased individual. Part of this process may involve receiving wrongful death insurance benefits.
If you have experienced the death of a loved one, or if you would like to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced wrongful death attorneys.
WHAT BENEFITS ARE AVAILABLE FROM INSURANCE IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Survivor Benefits
If the decedent had Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, surviving family members may be able to recover a death benefit, depending on the policy.
Read More: Car Accident Wrongful Death Attorneys
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
Obtaining car insurance is required by law in the United States for anybody who drives a motor vehicle on a public road. Unfortunately, many drivers are uninsured or underinsured. When an uninsured or underinsured driver causes a wrongful death, your insurance company may need to step in and provide coverage pursuant to uninsured and underinsured policy terms. Even then, coverage may not be sufficient to cover all costs associated with the wrongful death. In such cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may be required to recover compensation for losses sustained.
A successful wrongful death claim may allow the claimant to recover reasonable funeral expenses. Although funeral and burial expenses typically need to be paid out of pocket at the outset, the wrongful death claimant may seek reimbursement from insurance for reasonable costs incurred. Examples of such costs may include basic services fee for the funeral director and staff, handling of the body, cost of casket, funeral or memorial service charge, and officiant fee.
Personal Insurance Coverage
Generally, personal insurance policies may cover a portion of wrongful death claims. However, the amount paid by an insurance company is unlikely to adequately cover the extensive losses incurred. If personal insurance does not cover the full extent of your losses, a wrongful death lawyer may be available to help you pursue additional compensation such as economic and non-economic damages.
In addition to basic home and auto insurance protection, umbrella coverage is available. Umbrella policies provide additional coverage to protect you against the possibility of catastrophic or expensive legal liability. If the at-fault party of a wrongful death claim has umbrella coverage, a claim for wrongful death may be file against his or her insurance carrier.
Business Insurance Policies
In some cases, a wrongful death suit may be filed against a business in cases where an individual died due to an accidental or intentional act committed by a business employee or anyone else for whom the business is vicariously liable. For instance, a claim against Amazon may be initiated if an Amazon truck driver negligently hit and killed a pedestrian. A work-related death of an employee may also generate a wrongful death suit.
Under commercial liability policies, wrongful death claims are treated similarly to other personal injury claims. If the claimant can establish that the business or employee’s negligence caused the accident that resulted in death, the claim may be covered by the business’ general liability, auto liability, or other liability insurance.
HOW DO I CLAIM THESE BENEFITS FROM AN INSURANCE COMPANY?
To receive insurance benefits after a wrongful death, you must first file a claim. Listed below are the steps that comprise the wrongful death claim filing process.
1. Only Authorized Parties May File
Only certain persons have standing to file a wrongful death claim. Individual state laws set forth which parties are authorized to file a wrongful death claim. Although there may be some variation between states, the following parties are typically allowed to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased relative:
- The surviving spouse
- A surviving child
- A surviving parent
If you are unsure whether you are authorized to file a wrongful death claim and seek insurance benefits, contact a wrongful death attorney. After gathering the facts of your case, a wrongful death attorney may be able to provide guidance as to any rights and remedies you may have.
2. Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney
If you are within the class of persons authorized to file a wrongful death claim by your state’s wrongful death statute, your next step towards claiming these benefits should be to contact a wrongful death attorney.
Although you may file a claim directly with an insurance company before seeking legal advice, doing so may be harmful for several reasons. For instance, during your conversations with the insurance company, you may make a statement that can diminish the value of your claim. Insurance companies may also use strategic tactics to convince you to accept a settlement offer that is lower than your claim’s actual value.
A wrongful death attorney may meet with you to review the facts and circumstances of your case. During this meeting, the attorney may ask questions to obtain important pieces of information, such as when the death occurred, how it occurred, and whether there were any witnesses or police reports filed. From there, the attorney may file a claim on your behalf and ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the entirety of the claim filing process.
3. Settlement and Lawsuit
After gathering as much information as possible regarding your case, a wrongful death attorney may contact you to discuss your rights and remedies. Before your case proceeds to trial, you may have the option of accepting a settlement from the insurance company in charge of handling the claim. If it is not in your best interests to accept the settlement, an attorney may file a lawsuit against the insurance carrier on your behalf.
DO I NEED TO NEGOTIATE THESE BENEFITS?
A critical part of the wrongful death claim settlement process is negotiating the amount of compensation or benefits you should receive with the insurance carrier handling the wrongful death claim.
In many cases, insurance companies will be reluctant to pay out the full value of your claim. You, on the other hand, will want to receive as much as you are legally entitled to. As a result, a settlement negotiation may ensue. This process typically consists of back-and-forth communication between you or your attorney and the insurance company. Although the negotiation process may be frustrating, there are several steps that you may take to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
Collect and Organize All Documentation
To maintain the integrity of your claim’s value, it is imperative that you organize all documentation relating to the accident. The more comprehensive the documentation is, the better position you may be in when it comes to negotiating your claim. If possible, you should gather documents such as police reports, medical bills, repair bills, photographs of the injury or damage, photographs of the scene of the accident, witness statements, and estimates of lost wages. Organizing these documents into a single organized file may strengthen your claim.
Establish a Minimum Settlement Amount
Understanding what your claim is actually worth may allow you to negotiate more effectively. Be sure to estimate your claim’s value before entering the negotiation process by considering factors such as medical bills, car repair bills, lost wages, and other miscellaneous expenses. Once you determine your claim’s value, you may be in a better position to negotiate your claim. Although the insurance carrier may deny or reject your initial settlement offer, do not hesitate to reject theirs if the proposed amount is substantially lower than your estimate.
Emphasize and Reemphasize Your Position
Defend your position throughout the negotiation process by emphasizing and reemphasizing the severity of the accident and the extent to which the accident will impair your life and the lives of those who knew the decedent. Be sure to refer to any relevant documentation whenever possible to support your position.
Be Patient and Persistent
Finally, remember that the negotiation process will require you to be patient and persistent. Maintaining your wits and relying on hard evidence during negotiations can put you in a better position to receive the benefits you are legally entitled to.
CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP ME CLAIM THESE BENEFITS?
Yes, an attorney may be able to provide a variety of services that may help you claim these numerous wrongful death insurance benefits. Handling a wrongful death claim is a strenuous process that requires patience, access to resources, keen negotiating skills, and a thorough understanding of wrongful death law. An attorney may be able to help by filing a claim on your behalf and handling it from start to finish, using such skills and expertise to help you recover benefits that you may be legally entitled to.
Other ways a wrongful death lawyer may help include:
- Filing a timely lawsuit on your behalf to ensure that the applicable statute of limitations period does not expire
- Conducting a thorough investigation into the matter to collect helpful evidence that may be used to build the value of your wrongful death claim
- Interviewing medical professionals, witnesses, and first responders to gather information and evidence to establish fault
- Thoroughly researching any appliable wrongful death statutes and case law to best understand what it takes to succeed on a wrongful death claim
- Providing access to critical resources such as accident reconstruction technology and expert witness testimony
- Negotiating with multi-million-dollar insurance companies who may be reluctant to pay out the full value of your wrongful death claim
- Being a source of knowledge and information should you have any questions or concerns about the status and viability of your wrongful death claim
- Carrying out any other legal responsibility necessary to ensure that your legal rights are fully protected
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced wrongful death attorney, or to learn more about the claim filing process, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free case evaluation.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.