If you're currently involved in a wrongful death lawsuit that you are likely to win, there will be a big settlement as a result of the court case. However, you may be wondering what happens with that settlement since multiple people may have a right to it due to how they were affected. Here are some key things to know about settlement distribution.
Know Who Has A Rightful Claim
Even though you may feel as if you were affected the most due to wrongful death, there are many people that will likely be included when it comes to receiving a settlement. If the parents of the deceased are still alive, they have a rightful claim due to losing their child prematurely. A surviving spouse of the deceased can make a claim as well due to the marriage. Siblings of the deceased often have a right to some of the settlement due to their relationship, as well as surviving children of the deceased.
Things get a bit complicated when a girlfriend or boyfriend is involved, even if they were living together on their own. It will help if the boyfriend or girlfriend can show that they were financially dependent on the deceased in order to justify a claim. However, the lawsuit is still made by the estate, who then distributes the settlement.
Know Who Has Priority To A Claim
When there is a limited settlement from a wrongful death lawsuit, be aware that it is typically the surviving spouse and children that have the biggest claim to that wrongful death settlement. While others can still receive part of the settlement, it will be much smaller for other relatives. This is because the spouse and children are more directly affected by the death when it comes to the deceased's lost earning potential. A spouse will have more issues paying bills and future expenses for their children, while parents or siblings may not.
Know How Settlement Distribution Disputes Are Settled
If you do find yourself in a situation where everyone cannot come to an agreement on how a wrongful death settlement will be divided, know that things will likely be decided in mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached, lawyers will need to get involved from each party to figure out how the settlement should be fairly divided. It could lead to a court case where the settlement distribution is decided on by a judge.
Reach out to a local wrongful death lawyer to learn more.