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How Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Divided Among Family Members?

A wrongful death case is filed when an individual is killed due to another person’s negligence. In a wrongful death case, those filing on behalf of the deceased must show that the at-fault individual had a duty to the deceased, that the duty was breached by some type of negligence, and that the victim was killed because of that breach.

Wrongful death claims may be filed in a wide range of cases, including medical malpractice cases and other types of legal claims, and they may follow criminal trials, such as in murder or manslaughter cases.

Wrongful death cases are filed by the surviving family members of the deceased. Children and spouses commonly file wrongful death cases, although other individuals may file them as well, depending on their relationship to the deceased.

How Is a Settlement Decided?

Many wrongful death cases settle out of court, while others are awarded an amount of damages after a trial. A jury often designates how the proceeds from a wrongful death settlement are distributed among family members.

There are a number of factors that are considered when deciding how to divide a settlement, including:

  • Whether the deceased is survived by minor children
  • If all the beneficiaries are adults, whether they can agree to a fair division of the proceeds

If the deceased had minor children, a court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent their best interests. The guardian will ensure that any settlements reached are fair to the children and that their financial interests are properly taken into account.

If the beneficiaries are adults and they are willing to work together to achieve a settlement, they may be able to use the same attorney to negotiate a settlement. They may create a settlement agreement that they think is fair and then tell their attorney how they would like for the money to be divided.

However, if there are adult beneficiaries who cannot agree as to how the settlement should be divided, things get more complicated. Each individual may have to hire a different attorney to represent their own interest in the claim. Therefore, multiple lawsuits may be filed against the negligent individual who caused the death. In this situation, each individual will not know how much the others are receiving, because settlement negotiations and settlement agreements are generally private.

In other cases where the adult beneficiaries cannot agree, they may hire their own attorneys but inform those attorneys to work together to come up with an agreement for the settlement. Rather than allowing emotions to cloud their ability to come up with a settlement agreement on their own, they trust their attorneys to work out the details—with their final approval, of course.

Do I Need an Attorney to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims can be complex, especially if there are multiple beneficiaries claiming part of a settlement. It is best to have an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side from the beginning to ensure all negotiations are fair and that your rights are protected. Without a wrongful death attorney, you might forfeit your ability to recover the full compensation you deserve from a wrongful death settlement.

How Zinda Law Group Can Help

At Zinda Law Group, our attorneys have a breadth of experience in handling many types of wrongful death claims. We understand how devastating these cases can be and are prepared to help you with this difficult process. Call us today at 800-863-5312 for a free and confidential consultation about your case. Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.




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