When a person’s death is the result of medical negligence, a motor vehicle accident, a workplace accident, or another wrongful act, the deceased person’s family is entitled to financial compensation. A wrongful death action allows grieving family members to more easily recover financially from the economic loss and expenses associated with their loved one’s death.
Surviving parents, children, and spouses are able to recover monetary damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages/loss of financial support
- Funeral expenses
- Legal fees
- Loss of consortium (loss of companionship, advice, counsel, care, etc.)
- Anguish, pain, and suffering
Punitive damages (if there are criminal charges)
But how much are these damages worth? And how much money should you expect from your wrongful death suit?
Every case has unique circumstances that make it hard to predict what the value of your case will be simply by looking at averages. That said, the average fatal accident or malpractice claim for...
- an adult man is $4.1 million ($1.4 million median),
- for an adult woman is $3.1 million ($1.4 million median),
- for a minor male is $4.3 million ($2 million median),
- for minor girls is $3.4 million ($1.5 million median),
- and, for adults over 65, is $1.3 million.
Maryland’s cap on pain and suffering damages limits the value of cases to less than the average of what a jury might give. If a jury awards $10 million in pain and suffering, for example, that verdict would be reduced to between $680,000 and $2 million, depending on the details of the case and the year of the fatality.
The average settlement/verdict in Maryland traffic accident death claims is $500,000. The average value falls to $500,000 when settled cases are included because there are many car accident death cases in which the insurance policies are not large enough to cover the loss.
In truck accident, premises liability, and medical malpractice cases, on the other hand, there is typically enough insurance coverage to pay any verdict or settlement amount. Other types of claims can be more of a challenge. In those cases, the most important “lawyering” done in the case is searching for insurance in unexpected places.
Below, we provide verdicts and settlements from past wrongful death lawsuits. Your lawsuit will not necessarily turn out like these cases did—there are simply too many variables at play. However, this is one resource that can help you know what to expect.
- 2018, Maryland: $10,000,000 Verdict At the hospital, the victim receives a risky drug that he does not need, resulting in his death. The hospital declined to settle, and at trial, a jury awards $10 million. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- 2018, Virginia: $150,000 Settlement Three drivers, all insured by State Farm, get into an accident. In the collision, a pedestrian is killed. The pedestrian’s estate brings wrongful death claims against State Farm. The insurance company settles for $150,000.
- 2018, Maryland: $273,026 Verdict A 56-year-old man living in a nursing home has a host of very serious health problems, including a history of problematic swallowing. He chokes to death while eating. His estate sues the doctors for malpractice, alleging that they were negligent in not putting the decedent on a soft food diet in light of his medical history. The defendants denied wrongdoing and the case went to trial. The jury awards $273K in damages, mostly for loss of services to his wife. The small amount of the award is probably due to the fact that the decedent was in extremely poor health and probably would not have lived much longer.
- 2017, Maryland: $465,000 Verdict A middle-aged male dies after his kidney cancer goes undiagnosed and spreads to his lungs and bones. His estate sues Advanced Radiology for medical malpractice, alleging that its radiologists failed to report two masses on the decedent's kidney which resulted in delayed diagnosis and treatment. The defendants deny that they did anything wrong, but the jury ultimately awards $465,000. The low amount of the award is probably due to the fact that timely diagnosis would have increased the decedent’s chance of survival but not guaranteed it.
- 2017, Utah: $3,000,000 Verdict A man goes to a clinic with abdominal pain and is diagnosed with constipation. He returns a second time with the same complaint and receives the same diagnosis. No heart tests are administered. Four days after the second visit, he dies from aortic dissection. The man’s wife is awarded $3 million by a jury.
- 2017, Maryland: $1,650,000 Settlement In this case, our client’s son runs out of gas on the side of the road. A friend delivers gas to him near his stranded vehicle, but on his walk back to the car, a distracted truck driver drifts into the shoulder and kills him. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- 2016, Maryland: $1,500,000 Settlement The 20-year-old victim is preparing to change a flat tire and is killed when a truck drives off the road and hits him. Miller & Zois represented the young victim’s mother in this case.
- 2016, Maryland: $3,900,000 Verdict A 28-year-old male has a heart attack and dies from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Prior to his death, the decedent had consulted with the defendant cardiologist on multiple occasions but was never diagnosed with any cardiac condition despite chest pain and numerous risk factors. His estate sues the cardiologist for malpractice, alleging that the doctor failed to perform a complete and appropriate workup, including a stress test. The jury awards $3.9 million in damages, later reduced by the Court to $882K.
- 2016, Maryland: $451,956 Verdict An older woman undergoes hip replacement surgery at the defendant hospital, GBMC. After the surgery, she begins to experience numbness, tingling, sensory changes and weakness in her legs. Her condition worsens until she is unable to move her feet and legs. She reportedly is not sent for an MRI until hours later, which reveals a hematoma at the site her epidural block. By that time, it is too late to save her life. Her estate sues GBMC and the anesthesiologist for negligent post-operative care. The jury awards $450K.
- 2016, Virginia: $1,400,000 Settlement The decedent’s lung cancer goes undiagnosed for thirteen months. When the cancer is finally diagnosed, it is no longer treatable, resulting in the patient’s death. The defendant radiologist had seen lesions on his lung in an x-ray but failed to diagnose the cancer. The defendant’s malpractice insurer settles for $1.4 million.
- 2015, West Virginia: $3,250,000 Settlement A Maryland resident loses his wife after she miscarries their child. The woman, a medical doctor herself, presented to the emergency room with an infection that went untreated, causing her death. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- Overview of wrongful death claims
- Survival actions
- Wrongful death statute of limitations
- Pedestrian wrongful death claims
- Wrongful death from medication errors
If you have lost a family member due to a wrongful act or as a result of negligence, we are truly sorry for your loss. You have a legal right to compensation. At Miller & Zois, we are highly experienced when it comes to winning wrongful death settlements for surviving family members. For a free initial consultation of your lawsuit, contact our wrongful death attorneys today by calling (800) 553-8082 or by filling out our online form.