How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Distributed Among Family Members?
It is a common misconception that the only one affected by an incident of wrongful death is the victim. In reality, the event itself sends shockwaves throughout the immediate family of the deceased, including the spouse, parents and children. That’s why, when a wrongful death claim has been made, the question arises as to how the proceeds will be divided among those left behind. There are a lot of factors which can affect this, including the will of the deceased, state law, as well as the family’s own preferences.
Under Texas law, the family of the victim does not constitute a single claimant, but several individual ones. To make the process easier, the claims of each family member are typically consolidated into a single lawsuit. However, once a settlement has been reached, each individual family member will receive a separate allocation based on the nature of their relationship with the deceased and the extent of the trauma they have suffered as a result of the incident. Essentially, the settlement is not divided equally among the family, but apportioned based on the merits of each individual claim.
But what if the wrongful death claim is NOT taken to court?
Not every wrongful death claim is contested in court. If a settlement is offered, and accepted by the family, then there will be no jury to specify precisely how the settlement should be divided among the claimants.
In cases such as this, the attorneys involved will take a look at legal precedent- particularly cases where juries were called upon to divide the compensation in a similar scenario.
Here are a few of the key factors which need to be taken into consideration:
- Are there children/minors involved?
- Are all the claimants adults?
- If so, can they agree on a fair distribution of the compensation themselves?
- Or if they cannot agree on how to distribute the compensation, are they planning to contest the issue?
- Or are they willing to let their attorneys work together to reach a compromise?
Each of these elements must be carefully examined in order to determine what the available options are, and what the best course of action will be.
When you are initiating wrongful death proceedings, one of the first steps to take is to determine exactly who all the claimants are. This will be very useful further down the line, as it will help to determine the potential value of a claim and to indicate the full scope of reparations.
How is the wrongful death settlement divided when a case IS taken to court?
The division of the financial settlement among the claimants in a wrongful death claim is entirely at the discretion of the court. Typically, the largest portion is awarded to the spouse of the deceased, followed by any young children. Or, in cases where the victim is a minor, to the parents. The amount of compensation awarded to each individual claimant will be determined by the jury, based on the extent of the loss they have suffered. Essentially, the value is based on the proven impact of the loss.
What can the right wrongful death attorney do for me?
When pursuing a claim for wrongful death, it’s essential to have a winning West Houston negligent death attorney fighting your corner. They can help to establish whether the grounds are sufficient for a claim, provide all kinds of support with the administration and complex paperwork required as part of a claim, as well as assisting with the distribution of compensation in the aftermath of a successful claim. They will alleviate some of the pressure during your time of grief. For instances of wrongful death in the state of Texas, contact The Stephens Law Firm for answers to all your questions about division of wrongful death proceeds.