When a loved one is killed in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it can turn your world upside down. Not only are you likely dealing with the grief over that loss but medical bills and other expenses may cause you to feel overwhelmed. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit may allow you to recover damages, and there are a few questions you might want to ask your attorney upon your initial meeting.
1. Do I Qualify To File?
Wrongful death lawsuits may be brought by a variety of individuals who are related to the deceased person. If you are that person’s spouse, adult child, grandparent or grandchild, you are likely eligible to file. Friends, common-law spouses and domestic partners are usually not eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In some states, if you can prove that you presented yourself as a married couple, even if you were living under common-law status, you may be able to file. You might want to gather and present your attorney with proof that you received financial support from the deceased, such as W2s and pay stubs.
2. Are Damages Taxable?
Understanding tax laws related to a wrongful death lawsuit may give you peace of mind as you move forward with your case. The Internal Revenue Service does not collect taxes on damages won in personal injury cases, except in rare instances or if you win punitive damages, which are taxable. As such, you will likely be able to retain any award that stems from a wrongful death suit.
3. Are There Other Exceptions?
Depending on the nature of your case, some portions of your award may be subject to taxes. For example, some states might tax money related to medical payments or other awards based on state tax laws. Your attorney can notify you about what portions of your award may be affected depending on your state of residence.
4. Which Damages Can I Include?
There are a variety of damages you might include as you build a wrongful death lawsuit, and your attorney can assist you with placing a value on your case. You might include a loss of companionship, loss of financial support and funerary costs, including the cost of cremation or burial. If you have minor dependents, you can include monetary contributions from the deceased as well.
Losing a loved one to an accident that was the fault of another can change your world forever, but you do not have to face the future alone. If you have questions about a wrongful death case, contact the attorneys at Barry P. Goldberg for a consultation.