After a loved one’s wrongful death, surviving family members may face several issues. Besides coping with the tragedy and going through the grieving process, there are financial matters they must handle. It’s important to consider some of the ways to address the financial, such as collecting on a life insurance policy or pursuing a wrongful death action.
Process for Collecting Life Insurance after a Wrongful Death
Getting started with a life insurance claim as soon as possible will help relieve the family from some of the financial concerns they may be facing. But families should be aware that the insurer will require certain steps to collect on the policy.
After contacting the insurance company, a representative will explain the required procedure. There will be paperwork to complete and documentation to submit. One such document is an official state-sealed death certificate. Also be sure you review the life insurance policy before you submit your claim.
You may have to call the insurer for a copy if you can’t find it. Reviewing it will allow you to understand the coverage and the compensation to which you and your family may be able to collect.
In some cases an insurer may investigate some of the details of the claim to verify them. Of course the last thing a family wants to do is relive the tragedy by talking about it or submitting proof of a loved one’s death. But it’s important to remain calm and not overreact to an insurer’s questions. Be patient and honest when talking with insurance representatives.
Taxes and Other Considerations Regarding Life Insurance Benefits
Insurance proceeds are available to beneficiaries named in the policy. The benefits are usually not included as income for the beneficiary, but benefits may be taxable under certain circumstances, such as if the decedent owns the policy the proceeds will be taxable under estate tax laws.
You do not have to use life insurance benefits to pay off the decedent’s death either, such as the medical costs incurred from the event that caused death. You can address these bills by filing a wrongful death or survival action against the party at fault for your loved one’s death.
Thus, many families use life insurance benefits to secure their financial future and make mortgage payments, car payments, etc., especially if the decedent contributed to the family’s income.
Other Options for Addressing Financial Losses after a Wrongful Death
A life insurance policy is just one option to consider when addressing a family’s financial situation after a wrongful death. When a loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, the decedent’s personal representative may pursue a wrongful death or survival claim against the negligent party.
For instance, a family may file a lawsuit or insurance claim against a driver who caused a fatal car accident. In the case of medical malpractice, the family may file legal action against the doctor or surgeon responsible. In the event of an accident on someone’s property, the family may file a claim against the property owner.
Damages in a wrongful death or survival action typically address the medical bills incurred. If there were ambulance fees or treatment received in an emergency room, these may be included. If the loved one was hospitalized for any length of time prior to passing, the legal action could address those costs as well.
The loss of income is another form of compensation that a family may seek in a wrongful death claim. Sometimes the family can recover damages for lost earnings from the date of death until a certain point, such as the decedent’s expected retirement age.
Funeral and burial costs are usually included in wrongful death actions as well. There could be additional forms of compensation that address the psychological impact of losing a loved one, such as for grief and sorrow. Spouses may be entitled to damages such as the loss of companionship and children for loss of parental guidance.
Talk to an attorney if you lost a loved one because of another’s negligent act and wish to explore your options for filing a wrongful death and survival action. Call Gacovino, Lake & Associates at 800-550-0000 to get started.