How Nevada Wrongful Death Settlements Work

doctor holding a stethoscope with words wrongful death printed. concept of wrongful death settlement

Wrongful death settlements provide monetary compensation to help grieving families pay for the expenses connected to their loved one’s death and protect them from struggling financially due to the death. Most claims filed by the personal representative or surviving family members of a decedent end in a settlement. In Nevada, wrongful death settlements are divided among the victim’s family members and other beneficiaries who suffered losses because of the victim’s death. Learn more about Nevada wrongful death settlements below.

What Is a Wrongful Death Settlement?

A wrongful death settlement is an agreement in which the party responsible for the death of a person agrees to pay a specific amount of money to the victim’s eligible surviving loved ones. Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to another party’s negligence, recklessness, or deliberate behavior. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed to receive compensation for the damages resulting from the victim’s death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that unintentional injuries, some of which qualify for wrongful death lawsuits, were the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Nevada in 2020.

Motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, exposure to dangerous conditions, on-the-job accidents, product defects, dog bites, criminal actions, and premises liability incidents are some common causes of wrongful death. In a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada, the victim’s family must prove that it was another person’s or entity’s negligence or intentional actions that led to the victim’s death. For example, drunk driving and distracted driving are negligent acts that commonly lead to fatal accidents in Nevada and wrongful death claims. The claimants also must prove that they’ve suffered damages due to the loved one’s death.

Victims can sue a defendant for wrongful death in Nevada, even if the defendant has faced a criminal case for the same death.

Most wrongful death cases settle out of court before reaching trial. You can negotiate a settlement with the party responsible for the harm that led to your loved one’s death. The insurance company representing the liable person, company, or organization may make a settlement offer. If your wrongful death lawyer believes your case is worth more, he or she will continue negotiating a higher settlement. Your lawyer may have to work through several offers before an acceptable settlement is reached.

If you can’t reach a fair settlement agreement, you can pursue your case in court.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Although a person’s untimely death affects many people, the law permits only certain parties to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The parties legally allowed to file a lawsuit in Nevada include:

  • The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
  • The surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Any surviving children

Parents of the victim can also file a wrongful death lawsuit if there’s no surviving partner or children. Other parties may also be allowed to file claims if they can prove they relied on the deceased person financially. A Las Vegas wrongful death lawyer can help you determine whether you may be permitted to file a claim.

If you want to file a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas, it’s crucial to act fast to avoid being time-barred and losing the right to pursue legal action. The Nevada wrongful death statute of limitations is two years, meaning you have to file a claim within two years of the date of the victim’s death.

Who Pays Out a Wrongful Death Settlement?

You can sue a person or entity that wrongfully cause your loved one to die. Some parties you can hold accountable for wrongful death include drivers at fault for accidents, healthcare providers who’ve committed medical malpractice, property owners, manufacturers, retailers, or distributors of defective products, government agencies, and builders or designers of faulty roadways. Multiple parties could be held responsible for the wrongful death of your loved one. A wrongful death lawyer can help you identify the parties that could share liability for the death.

Generally, wrongful death settlements are paid out by the insurance companies of the liable parties. Individuals and entities usually carry insurance policies to protect them and the victims of their negligence. For example, if a negligent driver caused an accident that killed your close relative, the other driver’s auto insurance coverage will likely pay for your losses. If the driver was working at the time of the crash, you may be able to recover compensation from his or her employer’s insurer.

If a family member sustained a fatal injury due to a dangerous condition on a commercial or residential property, you could receive compensation from the property owner’s insurance policy. If your relative died because of medical malpractice, you may collect compensation from the hospital’s or doctor’s medical malpractice insurance policy.

If your wrongful death damages exceed the liable party’s insurance policy limits, the person or entity that caused your loved one’s death could be held personally responsible for the rest of the damages.

How Much Is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Las Vegas Worth?

It’s difficult to accurately establish the average settlement for wrongful death suits. Compensation varies from one case to another due to the differences in the specific facts of the deceased victim’s life and the cause of the victim’s death. Nevertheless, settlements tend to be high because of wrongful death’s far-reaching impact on the surviving family members.

The average settlement for wrongful death in Nevada can range from $500,000 to $1 million or more. The settlement for your claim could be less or more than the average.

Factors That Could Affect Your Wrongful Death Settlement Value

Several factors may affect the outcome and settlement amount of your case. These include:

The Age and State of Health of the Deceased Person

Your loved one’s age, life expectancy, and overall health at the time of his or her death may be considered. These factors may be used to establish the likelihood that the person would have died. For instance, if a person had one or more health problems at the time of his or her death, the liable party could argue that the health issues contributed to the person’s death.

A wrongful death attorney can help you prevent these factors from minimizing your settlement by gathering and presenting valuable evidence to prove liability and the extent of your damages.

The Deceased Person’s Medical Expenses

Calculations of wrongful death settlement amounts generally include a deceased person’s medical bills and healthcare expenses related to the injury that led to his or her death. A deceased person’s medical costs may include hospital bills, laboratory fees, surgery costs, prescription drugs, and even unsuccessful treatments. The person may have endured prolonged suffering before his or her death. These costs can add up quickly and burden the surviving family members.

You can list all the person’s final healthcare expenses, as well as the funeral and burial expenses, in your wrongful death case to have the settlement relieve you of the burden.

The Deceased Person’s Earning Capacity

When a wage earner dies, his or her loved ones experience a loss of financial support in addition to the loss of companionship. A wrongful death settlement would need to reflect the monthly and yearly financial support the loved ones would have gotten if the decedent had lived a full life. That requires the parties involved in a case to consider the decedent’s pre-injury earning capacity and possible future earnings.

Insurance Policy

Insurance policies have different coverage limits. The insurance policy covering the at-fault party and its limits may affect the compensation you can receive for a loved one’s wrongful death.

Circumstances of a Person’s Death

The circumstances that led to a person’s death will also determine the settlement amount.

The best way to find out the settlement range for your claim is by consulting a wrongful death attorney. Your attorney will evaluate your case and determine the factors that could impact its value and the appropriate settlement amount to pursue from the at-fault party.

How Wrongful Death Settlements Are Divided

Nevada laws dictate how the settlement awarded for wrongful death is divided among a deceased person’s surviving family members. Each legal heir of the person is entitled to receive a fair portion of the wrongful death settlement. An heir is an individual who would be entitled to inherit a person’s property if the person had died without a will.

Each heir may present evidence of his or her specific losses related to the victim’s death to receive a proportionate portion of the settlement award. The losses you can prove to be eligible for a portion of the settlement include:

  • Grief or sorrow
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, society, and consortium
  • The decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement

The courts in Nevada divide a settlement according to each heir’s respective damages after hearing the evidence from all the heirs. Generally, surviving spouses or domestic partners receive the largest portion of wrongful death settlements, followed by surviving children. Anyone else who is entitled to wrongful death benefits can receive the remaining amount. The remaining settlement amount may be divided among beneficiaries, such as siblings and parents, who can prove they’ve suffered losses connected to the deceased person’s death.