Wrongful Death Lawsuits


A "wrongful death" case is a class of tort (negligence) that is recognized by all states, but unlike most negligence cases, the wrongful death case is governed by a separate wrongful death statute. So in order to underwrite any wrongful death case, the first place to start is to look to the wrongful death statute of the state in which the lawsuit occurred.

Someone must have died, due to the negligent, reckless, or in most states willful (intentional) act of another. The attorney must first open up a Probate case in Order to define who the beneficiaries of the proceeds of the case are to go to. But the case is actually tried in the regular non-probate court. Once the proceeds are defined by settlement or judgment, the case gets sent back to Probate to distribute the proceeds typically in a pre-determined way unless the parties have agreed to a distribution different than the statutory distribution.

The underwriting process is similar to a negligence personal injury case, from the standpoint of analyzing the liability. However it is important to understand from a collection standpoint that insurance typically only pays for a negligent act. So if the wrongful death is based on an intentional act, it may not be covered by insurance. Also, often minors are the biggest beneficiaries of a wrongful death suit, and since we cannot fund minor cases, it is important to determine or approximate how much of the funds will go to the surviving spouse and or other relatives who are all presumed beneficiaries under the statute. We have also had attorneys that refuse to honor an assignment under the guise that the Order of the Probate judge as to how to distribute the Probate proceeds overrides the assignment. So it is wise to get court permission to fund a case.

Wrongful death often has devastating financial consequences to a spouse and financial liabilities continue to mount, especially if inadequate life insurance proceeds exist. A funding can bridge the considerable time gap between filing a case and recovery.