It's very common to hear that the party you're suing in a wrongful death case wants to offer a settlement, and sometimes it can be tempting to take it immediately -- or refuse it with a few choice words. When you hear about the offer, it's best to let it sit for a bit while you process everything and talk to your attorney. Accepting a settlement can be the right thing to do in many cases, but you must know what you're getting into.
Admission of Guilt
First up is something you often see in cases where the defendant is a company or organization: no admission of fault or guilt. In other words, if you accept a settlement that has this condition, you're basically saying that you'll let the other party continue to be officially not guilty. This can be a major psychological blow to people who are suing for wrongful death. However, given the other conditions surrounding the settlement and case, it may be a small concession. Of course, if what the other party did want horrific and blatant, a settlement may not be the best course, let alone one that lets the other person get away almost free.
The Waiting Game
The amount of the settlement offer will be based on several factors, one of which is how long you might have to wait for an actual court case to conclude. If your case looks like it is going to take years, and you're not prepared to wait that long, the other party may try to give you a much lower settlement. Always discuss the amount with your attorney in detail to see how the amount stacks up against a potential court award. If something seems off, like you're being lowballed, you might be -- so be prepared to put up a front that looks like you're going to be able to wait a long time.
Even if the idea of accepting a settlement is fine with you, make sure the amount covers what you need. If you're dealing with a lot of bills and trauma since the incident that caused your loved one's death, you may need a lot of money to cover therapy and any other issues that stemmed from the situation. The settlement has to cover those adequately, as well as cover attorney's fees.
Don't make a move regarding a settlement offer until you've spoken with your attorney. Both of you have to check that all bases are covered before proceeding with a settlement.