How are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out? Are They Taxable?

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If you have lost somebody you love due to the careless or negligent actions of another person, business, or entity in South Carolina, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your loss. These cases can become incredibly complicated, and you should work with a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer in South Carolina. At The Jeffcoat Firm, we want to talk about what happens after you receive compensation for your loss, specifically how wrongful death settlements are paid to beneficiaries and whether or not they are taxable. 

After a successful wrongful death claim

There are various ways that a wrongful death case in South Carolina can be successful. With assistance from a skilled wrongful death lawyer in South Carolina you may recover compensation through either:

  • A negotiated settlement with the alleged negligent parties 
  • A jury verdict handed down after a trial 

Please note that most wrongful death cases are settled before they go to trial. However, there are times when a trial is necessary, particularly when the at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement. 

How are settlements paid out to eligible recipients? 

In most cases, wrongful death settlements will be paid out by insurance carriers who provide liability coverage for the defendant in the case. This could be the insurance carrier of an individual (perhaps a car insurance carrier) or a business insurance carrier who provides liability coverage to the business. 

However, parts of a wrongful death settlement may fall on the negligent party to pay if the limits for the insurance provider have been reached. If the negligent party has no insurance coverage or is otherwise unable to pay the amount over the insurance coverage policy limits, then they (the defendant) will be held personally responsible for these judgments or settlement amounts as well as any legal fees accumulated in the process. 

Wrongful death settlements could be paid out through structured payments over the course of some years, or they may be paid in one lump-sum payment to the plaintiffs. 

Are settlements in South Carolina wrongful death claims taxable?

We understand that no amount of money can erase the pain you and your family are going through after losing a loved one. However, the law does give you the right to file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina, and you may be entitled to significant compensation. In many cases, a wrongful death lawyer is able to help family members recover compensation through:

  • A negotiated settlement with the alleged negligent parties
  • A jury verdict after the case is heard in trial

Regardless of how surviving family members receive compensation for the loss of their loved one, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will generally not tax any compensatory damages awarded in the settlement or verdict. This can include compensation for pain and suffering damages, funeral and burial expenses, loss of future income the deceased would have provided, and more.

However, there are times when punitive damages may also be awarded in a wrongful death case. These damages are intended to punish a defendant when the actions that caused the death of your loved one were particularly egregious or grossly negligent. If punitive damages are awarded in these cases, the IRS will tax them. In general, punitive damages are rarely awarded. If you do receive punitive damages in your wrongful death claim, please speak to a tax professional.

Call us for a free consultation

If you have lost somebody you love due to the negligence of another person in South Carolina, you may be entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. At The Jeffcoat Firm, you can count on our team to conduct a full investigation into your case in order to secure compensation for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Cost of pre-death medical care
  • Compensation for pre-death pain and suffering
  • Loss of future income and benefits of the deceased
  • Mental anguish damages
  • Loss of consortium or companionship damages
  • Possible punitive damages against those responsible

If you need a wrongful death attorney in South Carolina or any of the surrounding areas, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling us at 803-373-1302.

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