How Wrongful Death Settlements Are Divided Among Family Members In California
In California, determining how much of the settlement funds each party should receive is mainly up to the family members and heirs who are bringing the wrongful death lawsuit.
In a perfect world, claimants would agree to divide the funds equally or give more considerable sums to those who will be more negatively impacted by the death or are financially less advantaged.
In other situations, claimants desire more, denying children or other surviving family members sufficient funds from the judgment or settlement.
So, what happens in these situations? Is there a procedure? Here's what our California wrongful death attorneys have experienced:
Who Can File A California Wrongful Death Claim?
Only a few people are permitted to claim damages after a wrongful death. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure, a spouse, domestic partner, and children have precedence in pursuing a wrongful death claim under Section 377.60.
If these parties are not present, anyone lawfully entitled to the decedent's property through intestate succession may file. This might involve parents, stepchildren, or siblings in some circumstances. In addition, people who were financially reliant on the deceased may occasionally be qualified to file a claim for compensation in a wrongful death case.
However, not all families are created equal. Get an evaluation of your claim from a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney if you believe you can file a lawsuit.
Who Divides Wrongful Death Damages Among Family Members In California?
If your case is successful, family members are given a choice to decide amongst themselves how to split the wrongful death damages. This might be a discussion and negotiation that you'll need to discuss thoroughly with your family members.
What If Family Members Can't Come To An Agreement On How To Split The Wrongful Death Damages?
If the surviving family members can't agree on the division of wrongful death damages, the decision will be made by the court.
The court will allocate the damages after considering each claimant's financial needs and potential losses. For instance, a widower still alive may experience lost financial support, and dependent children under 18 may require more financial assistance for education and support than their elder siblings.
A California jury will determine the nature of each surviving relative's losses and damages at trial and make an effort to distribute the award among them equally. The payments would be distributed proportionately to the settlement amounts in cases when the decedent's insurance policy has limited coverage.
Some families use binding arbitration or mediation to hear each heir's argument and reach a legally binding agreement on how to split the estate funds.
The best course of action should be discussed with a knowledgeable California wrongful death lawyer if there is disagreement over the proportional portions of a settlement.
What Damages Can You Get From A Successful California Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death is a civil claim that enables family members to claim damages equivalent to the economic and non-economic losses they suffered. Negligent parties who caused the death of their loved ones will be liable for these damages and should compensate the family accordingly.
Heirs may be able to receive compensation for the following:
Lost household services
Loss of consortium
Loss of community
Loss of companionship
Lost parental supervision for young children
Lost future financial support
The victim's estate may also be entitled to compensation for financial damages experienced prior to the victim's death and brought on by the defendant's negligence, such as hospital and medical costs. An experienced wrongful death attorney in California can calculate the damages that might apply to your case.