How Is Compensation Divided Among Survivors?
A question you may wish to ask a lawyer is how much compensation you will receive if there are other surviving family members? The answer is that it depends. Every case is different in how compensation is apportioned. In certain circumstances, you may each receive equal portions. However, this is not necessarily the most equitable result, particularly any relatives who were financially dependent on the deceased.
If your case is decided by a jury, then the jurors determine how much compensation your family gets and how much goes to each person. However, a majority of wrongful death cases are settled out of court. When we negotiate a settlement on your family’s behalf, then you and your family members can agree to appropriate portions.
We often work with family members to determine fair outcomes, and when you and the other adults agree, this is a smooth process. If you and other surviving adults disagree on how much each of you should receive, then it may be necessary for other survivors to be represented by different law firms.
What Happens If a Family Member Dies Before Their Personal Injury Claim Was Settled?
If your loved one was severely injured in an accident and died halfway through the claims process, their case does not die with them. Instead, it can be carried on by family members. Additionally, the family will now file a wrongful death lawsuit. Though these two lawsuits are separate, they’re often wrapped into one trial or settlement.
The newly appointed “head” of the wrongful death claim, (called an executor), has full say over the claim. They’re in charge of hiring a lawyer, talking to the insurance companies, etc. They also decide how much money they’re willing to accept during the settlement process. When the wrongful death suit is settled, the money won will be given to the executor. However, that money must pass to different parties (other family members) as directed by the deceased’s will.
To be clear, if the victim dies of an unrelated cause (like cancer), it remains a personal injury case (as opposed to a wrongful death case). Wrongful death only applies if the deceased died from accident-related causes.