The days and weeks after losing a loved one can be extremely hard and emotionally taxing. Dealing with funeral arrangements and the deceased’s estate is challenging when you’re mourning. The last thing you need is another party to add more red tape at this difficult time.
Unfortunately, all too often, this is precisely when insurance companies that represent doctors, nurses, or hospitals that may be responsible for the death of your loved one will try to offer you a settlement for that wrongful death.
Thankfully, this doesn’t happen frequently, but when it does, it is a despicable tactic, as insurance companies know that aggrieved individuals mourning the loss of a loved one are vulnerable and in no state to decide whether an offer of settlement is fair or reasonable. If you receive a swift offer from a potential defendant, it will almost certainly be far from fair.
How can you tell if an offer is reasonable? What happens if you refuse the offer? What happens if you accept it?
These are all reasonable questions you might want to take your time to find answers to when you aren’t in mourning. Until then, your best option is to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney rather than attempting to deal with the insurance company on your own.
Let a Wrongful Death Attorney Negotiate A Fair Settlement On Your Behalf
While you always have the option of accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company, doing so is almost always a mistake.
First, insurers know that you likely need money right away. Usually, when a loved one dies, the people closest to them are suddenly responsible for their medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses. This could mean suddenly finding yourself tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
The insurance company may therefore attempt to offer you just enough money to cover your immediate bills — that way, their offer looks reasonable. But if you accept it, you’ll likely be unable to get more money later, which will matter if and when additional costs begin to stack up.
Secondly, insurance companies don’t generally make settlement offers if they do not believe you have a legitimate claim against the medical professional that they insure. In those circumstances, the insurance company’s goal is to get the fastest and cheapest settlement they can on behalf of their insured. For that reason, you always have the option (usually the best option) to reject the insurance company’s offer and instead hire an attorney to evaluate your case and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to try to recover reasonable compensation for your injuries or loss.
A wrongful death attorney will prevent you from making an unfortunate decision. They’ll investigate every aspect of your claim to determine the following:
- What caused the death of your loved one
- How egregious the negligent acts were
- What financial harm you’ve suffered due to the loss of your loved one
- How much your pain and suffering is worth based on your relationship with the deceased
Once your wrongful death lawyer has completed their investigation, they’ll determine the approximate value of your claim. Based on prior similar lawsuits or reported cases, an experienced attorney can calculate this value quite accurately, even if the value of the case is several million dollars. Your lawyer will then use the calculated value to determine whether the insurance company’s offer is fair.
If it isn’t (as is typically the case), your attorney can then begin negotiations with the insurance company. This is where all the evidence they collect about your claim comes into play.
They’ll present this evidence to the insurance company and use it to support a counteroffer. Typically, negotiations are relatively quick once your attorney has completed their investigation — either the insurance company will agree to a fair settlement, or they will not, in which case you will have to file your lawsuit in court, which is called litigation. If your attorney has experience with similar cases, they will be able to determine the best approach quickly and accurately.
The Final Decision About a Settlement Offer
While your wrongful death lawyer will take charge of nearly everything involving your claim, that doesn’t mean you aren’t involved in the decision-making process.
Your attorney should do everything they can to protect you from unfair practices and give you space to mourn. However, they should also want to protect your rights.
As such, your lawyer should inform you of any offer they receive on your case and tell you whether they believe you should accept it. Regardless of the advice you receive, the final decision should always be yours. In this way, your lawyer will act as a counselor and guiding light while you navigate the confusing aftermath of your loved one’s passing.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney at The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer M.D., Esq.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you deserve to receive compensation for that loss. Medical malpractice insurance companies will do everything in their power to pay you as little money as they can get away with. Don’t let them devalue your painful and difficult circumstances.
Our firm has extensive experience helping victims like you get the money they deserve. Contact us today to find out how we can help you negotiate a fair settlement for the death of your loved one.