Close this search box.
Available 24 Hours
(212) 514 - 5100
CALL US 24/7
Home » Wrongful Death » The Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Home » Wrongful Death » The Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death attorneys

The average settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit will vary significantly from state to state.  This is especially so in New York because this state has very specific wrongful death laws.  The most restrictive wrongful death law in New York is that the family of a wrongful death victim cannot recover for the emotional loss of that person.   Astonishingly, New York will only allow the family recover pecuniary damages.  In addition, the estate may recover for the victim’s pain and suffering and fear of impending death.  Even within the state of New York, wrongful death settlements vary from county to county. The fact that these values vary so significantly means that you must have a lawyer who can fully explain the law in New York so that you and your family can be compensated for the loss of a loves one.

How Does Pain and Suffering Affect the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Claim

When it comes to pain and suffering, New York is well behind the times.  The average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit in New York can often be less than in other states.  This is because New York will not allow family members to recover for the emotional pain and suffering. This is regardless of how they feel as a result of the loss of a loved one.  It is a terrible law. It robs a family of the opportunity to be compensated, or made whole, to the fullest extent possible.  While no amount of money will bring back someone lost due to the fault of another, the fact that New York refuses to recognize this pain is as draconian as it gets.

The family cannot recover for their personal pain and suffering. However the estate itself is able to recover for the pain and suffering of the victim. How is this different?  The law allows a recovery for the pain and suffering that the victim felt both during and after the accident.  This can increase the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit and is proved in a number of ways.  If the victim survives for a period of time following the accident, there are often witnesses who can testify about the pain that the victim appeared to be feeling during this time. If the victim is unresponsive, it is important that the proper experts are retained so that they can review the medical records.  These records will have indications as to whether a person could medically feel pain at the time.  Here it is important that the expert have extensive knowledge of the brain and how the human mind and body experiences pain.

The Defense to Pain and Suffering

Defense attorneys always try to lower the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit. They will often argue that the victim was on pain killers, therefore he or she could not feel pain.  This is nonsense and has been proven to be wrong consistently.  Not only that, but it is worth noting that the defendant put them in this position in the first place.  It is because of the defendant that the victim’s last moments took place in a pain killer induced state.  Your lawyer must not allow defense attorneys to take advantage of their client’s wrongdoing, simply because New York law is well behind the times.

What is Fear of Impending Death and How Does it Affect the Average Settlement of a Wrongful Death Claim


In addition to pain and suffering, the estate can recover for the fear of impending death of the victim.  Fear of impending death occurs most often when there is not an extended time for pain and suffering.  Some examples would be falling from a height, or the pre-impact terror that can happen before a car accident.  Victims have recovered for instances of medical malpractice where death was imminent, in severe burn and in drowning cases.

Even if the fear of impending death is for a short period of time, only minutes, the recovery can be for millions. In both pain and suffering as well as fear of impending death, the money goes to the estate and will be distributed through the probate process.  This is true for all funds which are recoverable from a wrongful death claim.


The focus of this wrongful death article was pain and suffering.  While we addressed that, it is very important to know that the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit is greatly increased by pecuniary loss.  This is the actual money that is lost as a result of the accident.  This includes future costs and the cost of replacing the every day things that a parent or spouse may do like teaching, cleaning, and guiding a child through life.  The most important thing for any victim is to have a personal injury lawyer who knows every way possible to help their client through one of the worst times of their lives.