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How to Divide a Wrongful Death Settlement

wrongful death

What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death occurs when an individual is killed due to another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that is separate from any criminal charges. Some of the most common types of wrongful death cases include:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Accidents at work
  • Defective products
  • Semi-truck accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Aviation accidents

If you receive a settlement in the case of a wrongful death, it means that you can claim money for damage from someone whose negligence led to another’s death. These cases are often brought against medical professionals, negligent drivers, and manufacturers. Usually, a wrongful death claim is filed by the survivors who suffer the damage of the individual’s death. Common examples of those who might file include:

  • Those who suffer financially from the death
  • Immediate and distant family members
  • Life partners, financial dependents, and putative spouses
  • Parents of a deceased fetus

There are a few factors that can be considered to determine the amount of a settlement, including:

  • The deceased’s state of health
  • The deceased’s earning capacity
  • The age of the deceased person
  • Medical bills and other expenses for the deceased
  • Funeral expenses
  • The deceased’s income at the time of death
  • Value of lost benefits

Who Is Paid in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

These settlements are paid out by insurance providers who give liability coverage for the individual or entity who is responsible for the death. There is usually a limit on the policy amount and the insurance company will not pay above that limit. Thanks to the decision made by Foster v. Jeffers, the proceeds of a wrongful death action are distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. These are also the laws that govern the distribution of the assets of a person’s estate without a will.

Furthermore, if there is a spouse but no children, the surviving spouse will get 100% of the proceeds. If there is a surviving spouse and one child, the proceeds are to be split equally. If there are two children and a surviving spouse, the proceeds are to be divided in thirds. The surviving spouse should not receive less than a 1/3 share of the proceeds and the funds left over should be divided between the children.

These “rules” are all meant to be taken generally, as they are not “one size fits all” answers to the question of how a settlement should be divided. Because the circumstances surrounding these cases can vary so widely, it is helpful to get in touch with an attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of wrongful death cases and knows how to apply them to meet your needs. At The Dickinson Law Firm, LLC, we are proud to help grieving individuals seek the justice they deserve when their loved one is fatally injured because of the negligence of a responsible party.

If you would like to file a wrongful death claim or need legal support in other areas surrounding personal injury, call The Dickinson Law Firm, LLC at (770) 924-8155 or contact us online.