Wrongful Death Settlements and Verdicts for Older Victims

This month’s Metro Verdicts Monthly provides the median verdict/settlement in Maryland wrongful death cases for victims over the age of 65 is $600,000.

I always caution about misleading figures, but this number is beyond misleading (through no fault of MVM). The data measures Maryland wrongful death settlements and verdicts in the last 23 years and ostensibly includes only cases of which Metro Verdicts Monthly is aware and, with respect to wrongful death settlements, it is not just medical malpractice cases and many wrongful death settlements in car accident cases are purely a function of the insurance policies available (sometimes in malpractice cases, too, but much less frequently).

Also, keep in mind this data includes settlements, which apparently reduce the numbers significantly. In another MVM study, juries have over the last 22 years awarded a median award of $1,337,824 involving victims over the age of 65 in Maryland wrongful death cases.

Still, you cannot ignore the fact that all things being equal, wrongful death cases in Maryland involving older plaintiffs are worthless – all things being equal – than younger victims. There is sometimes a small measure of logic to this: the economic damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit will be statistically less for an older victim than a younger victim.

But Maryland defense lawyers take this too far, often arguing for settlement purposes that a shorter life expectancy equates to less of a loss. But given Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages, a lost life should always be worth more.