When you are doing a wrongful death lawsuit why would they only offer 50.000 is that the going rate for a life these days.

Asked 7 months ago - Fresno, CA

was told the driver's insurance only covers up to 50,000. But i read stories of other people getting more and they survived my son died

Attorney answers (16)

  1. Alan Ray Barnes

    Contributor Level 18

    23

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A judgment for wrongful death would likely far exceed $50,000. But collecting that judgment is another matter entirely. If the driver does not have substantial non-exempt assets, it doesn't matter how large the judgment is.

    But there may be other insurance policies that cover these claims. Consult with a personal injury lawyer to talk about whether accepting the $50,000 policy limits is advisable. Most of us offer free Initial consultations.

  2. Michael Charles Doland

    Contributor Level 20

    20

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Hopefully your are not doing a wrongful death lawsuit yourself.
    It may be policy limits and your facts indicate you think it is. It may be a negotiating tactic.
    "Read stories of other people getting more"? In the same accident or in totally different circumstances with totally different insurance policies with different policy limits and parties that may or may not have had personal assets.
    There is no "going rate for a life" and being "ironic" won't impress the attorneys you are trying to get answers from.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may... more
  3. Minh Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 10

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am sorry for the loss of your son. The value of your son's life is certainly greater than $50,000, especially if you were close and loving. However, collecting money from the defendant is a separate question. Whenever you suffer the loss of a loved one and the defendant does not have sufficient insurance, then you have to look beyond the defendant to see there are other factors that contributed to your son's death. For example, if your son died in a car collision, then you may want to look for any vehicular defect such as crash worthiness, airbags, or seat belts. Or you my want to see if the design of the road contributed to the collision or not. Additionally, you will want to see if the owner of the car is different from the driver. If so, did the owner negligently entrusted the car to the driver. Was the driver a minor and intoxicated? If so, then if any adult supplied the minor with alcohol, then that adult may be responsible for your son's death too. Skilled plaintiff lawyers will look beyond the obvious to help clients. Make sure you have one on your side. You do not want to compound the tragic situation by selecting an inexperienced or gun-shy attorney who won't look beyond the obvious and fight the tough fights. Look for lawyers who have a strong winning record and are not avoid to try difficult cases. There are man fine lawyers on this site.

    God bless you and may you find peace.

    Minh T. Nguyen, Esq.

    This is a legal disclaimer that my advice here are for general purposes only and does not create an attorney-... more
  4. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . All too often, there isn't enough insurance coverage.

  5. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . You need to confirm that is the policy limit. Also, need to investigate if there are any other possible defendants, assets, or insurance. Your atty should also be looking for any underinsured motorist coverage.

  6. Louis Samuel Abronson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    15

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You will want to get a copy of the declaration page of the driver's insurance policy to verify that there is only 50000 in coverage. You will want to hire a private investigator to determine whether the driver has sufficient assets or adequate employment to make a lawsuit seeking something beyond the policy limits worthwhile. An attorney might be helpful, but if the ultimate truth is that only 50000 is available, you might feel that the help is overpriced if you hire them on a full contingency basis. I would recommend looking for an attorney willing to assist in your investigation at an hourly rate. If it turns out that more than 50k could be obtained, discuss moving the arrangement into a contingent format. The 50000 figure has nothing to do with the value of a life, it is only about what the adjuster says you can actually collect from this insurance company under this insurance policy. Good luck.

  7. Christopher John Gansen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There are a lot of reasons why taking a $50k offer might be the best decision. Without more information about the insurance angle, it's tough to really respond.

  8. David Ian Schoen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It is difficult for a person not familiar with the legal system to understand that since wrongful death claims are based on pecuniary loss instead of pain and suffering, all lives are not valued equally. For example, the loss of a baby can be more devastating than any other loss to the parent, the value of the child's live has little pecuniary value, since it had yet to enter the work force and contribute monetarily to the persons who will be compensated in the law suit. Likewise, the value of the life of someone making $100,000.00 is worth more than another earning only $10,000, regardless of how their lives impacted those around them in non-monetary ways.

  9. James Otto Heiting

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I have three sons, and no amount of money could replace any of them. The $50,000 does not represent the value of your son's life, but only the insurance limits available. There may be other sources of money that you can explore through your lawyer. You do not have to settle for the insurance limits.

  10. Dean Bailis Gordon

    Contributor Level 9

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am sorry for your loss. Without knowing more about your case, I cannot really advise you. Even if the at-fault driver had only a $50,000 insurance policy limit, it may be possible to recover additional funds, if for example, the other driver had other insurance, the vehicle owner had insurance, the driver was engaged in work-related activities, there was a defect in the vehicle, there was a defective road, and/or there may be Underinsured Motorist insurance available. You should consult with an experienced local personal injury attorney to explore these possibilities. I have been a lawyer for 39 years and am currently president of the local plaintiffs' lawyers association.

    Answering your inquiry does not establish an attorney-client relationship. California law requires that the... more
  11. Tracy W Cary

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . As others have indicated, there are several factors to be considered in determining whether $50,000 is all the coverage that's available. The amount of insurance coverage bears no relationship to the value of the life that was taken. In fact, all too often there is insufficient insurance coverage for the loss of life or serious personal injury. This is why consulting with a good personal injury attorney is very good advice. Other avenues of recovery could include a dram shop action, product liability case and/or underinsured motorist coverage. Best wishes as you deal with this tragedy.

  12. Philip Anthony Fabiano

    Contributor Level 20

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am very sorry for your loss.
    You have or may sue the driver responsible for this tragedy. If the case went to trial a jury would place a number on the loss that I am sure will far exceed the amount offered by the insurance company.
    The insurance company is not obligated and would have no reason to offer more than the limits purchased by their insured. If their insured purchased $50k in coverage that's all they will offer. The insured paid a certain amount of money in premiums for that $50k in coverage. He/she could have purchased a lot more insurance and the insurance company would have charged him or her more i premiums. The insured is not going to get more coverage than was paid for and the insurance company obviously is not going to pay more than what was paid for.. That does not mean a lawsuit cannot be filed against the driver. When a jury enters a verdict for much more than those limits the insurance company is only liable to pay those limits and the driver is responsible for the rest. The problem of course is will the driver have any assets to cover a judgment?? If not you will have a judgment you cannot collect. and depending on the nature of the judgment, the driver could then file for bankruptcy and eliminate the judgment.

    If you feel this is the "best" answer or is "helpful," please indicate. Since I am limited to the information you... more
  13. William West Seegmiller

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . So sorry for your loss. Certainly this is not acceptable for the loss of your son or anyone for that matter. It's possible the negligent driver's insurance limits were $50,000, but there are ways an experienced attorney could obtain more depending on the facts specific to your case. This is one reason to have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage on your policy. If a driver's insurance is low, as in this case, you can request the balance of the claim from your own policy.

    A good personal injury attorney can find other potential sources such as whether the negligent driver was working at the time of the crash, if he was underage a social host ordinance may be a factor, and there are many other possibilities. Call one of the AVVO attorneys here who are licensed in California for more help.

  14. C. Donald Briggs III

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Please accept my deepest sympathies for the loss of your son. You can sue and win an award for more than the insurance limits of $50,000 but the insurance company will only pay $50,000 no matter how much you the jury awards you. Any money over and above $50,000 would have to come from the assets of the person who caused your son's wrongful death. The stories you read perhaps involved cases where there was more than $50,000 in insurance coverage..

  15. Dennis M. Abrams

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am very sorry you lost your son.

    Here is the issue. The insurance company will only offer up to what the defendant paid for. So if the defendant paid for $50k max, then that is all that is available from the insurance. The question becomes, is there money available from anywhere else. Your son's insurance for example, if he had what is called underinsurance. Or does the person who killed your son have other assets?

    Your attorney should be able to tell you whether there is more money to go after, but if there isn't, then, unfortunately, there just isn't more money to be had.

    It isn't that your son's life is worth only 50k. It is that the insurance company is only obligated to pay the maximum under the policy. So even if you went to court and got a verdict of 10 million dollars (just throwing out a number) if there are no further assets to be had, then the verdict wouldn't result in you getting more money.

    Again, I am very sorry for your loss.

    I am a medical malpractice, catastrophic accident and wrongful death attorney based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.... more
  16. Edward Ryan Bradley

    Pro

    Contributor Level 4

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I always tell clients, no amount of money can fully compensate someone for a death. That being said, I would reach out to one of the California lawyers that responded to your question for a free consultation and representation, if needed. Good luck and I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

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