What is the maximum amount you can recover for a death claim?

The law of the state in which the accident occurs determines the maximum amount you can recover for a death claim. Therefore, it would behoove you if you were going to be killed in an accident to have your accident in Virginia rather than in West Virginia. Silly, isn’t it? To think that a human life can be worth $25,000 in one state and only $10,000 in the neighboring state!

Interest from time of death. In all states, interest is allowed the recovery in death cases. The interest varies from 5 to 7 percent and is allowed from the date of death. Here are four cases that illustrate the practical application of ie foregoing rules:
Example : Death of breadwinner
Mr. Wage Earner was married and had two children, aged six and ten. He was thirty-four years of age, in good health, an ambitious father and husband and a good provider. He was a book-keeper in a retail establishment and earned ยง4,000 a year.

One night as he was returning home, Mr, Earner was struck on a crosswalk and killed by a skidding truck belonging to a local express company. The express company was insured with limits of $50,000. The insurance company made a prompt contact with the family after the accident and made several settlement overtures. The funeral expenses were $1,100. The insurance company offered $10,000 in settlement. The problem was what amount should the widow accept.

The family attorney considered all the factors in the case including: the circumstances of the accident, the financial condition of the family, the expectation of the children for future education and training, the fact that Mr. Earner had a life expectancy of thirty-six years, that he was a man of good habits, that he was also in good health at the time of the accident.

The lawyer arrived at the conclusion that in theory this case was worth over $100,000. That had little to do with the practical problem. The trucking company was of doubtful financial responsibility. The insurance coverage was only $50,000. The county where the family resided and where the accident took place was noted for its low verdicts. It had never brought in a verdict in a death case in excess of $40,000.

Because of the fine reputation which the decedent and his family bore in the community, the lawyer felt that, if the case were tried, a jury might possibly be persuaded to bring in a verdict of $40,000 or $50,000. However, if a settlement were made now, it could be made without great legal expense. Accordingly, the lawyer recommended that the widow accept not less than $30,000 in settlement.


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