The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In a wrongful death action, a claim is brought against a defendant who caused the death of someone as the result of negligence or an intentional act. Essentially, it allows another party associated with the deceased individual to file a lawsuit against the party legally responsible for his or her death. A wrongful death claim is usually filed by the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate on behalf of family members and loved ones of the deceased.

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

While the wrongful death lawsuit is usually filed by the personal representative of the estate, the money, or “damages,” recovered in the lawsuit will be distributed to the survivors who were dependent on the deceased individual or who are beneficiaries of the deceased individual’s estate. People who may receive a portion of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Surviving children or grandchildren
  • Surviving siblings
  • Surviving nieces or nephews
  • An individual with the ability to demonstrate that he or she was financially dependent on the deceased individual

The estate itself may also receive a portion of the damages in order to cover costs such as funeral and burial expenses. Generally speaking, the surviving spouse or surviving children of the deceased will be first in line to receive a lawsuit damage award. Siblings or children of siblings usually will not receive a portion of the award unless there is no surviving spouse or children of the deceased.

A monetary damage award in a wrongful death case can include a variety of losses sustained as a result of the death of a person. This includes:

  • Loss of income
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of care and guidance
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium

The value of these things the deceased would have provided had he or she not died as a result of injuries sustained due to the negligent or intentional acts of the defendant will be tallied and generate a final damage award. A damage award will also include things suffered by the deceased individual as a result of the fatal injuries sustained, but suffered prior to death. This includes pain and suffering, commonly referred to as a “survival” claim. The damage award will likely also include the cost of medical treatment incurred by the deceased prior to death. It is also important to note that the State of New Jersey does not allow surviving family members to recover certain damages, including damages for emotional distress or punitive damages. Instead, family members may want to consider filing a separate claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. In that claim, they are able to seek recovery for emotional distress caused by the death of their loved one.

Wrongful Death Attorneys

Not only is the death of a loved one emotionally devastating, it also can have a huge financial impact. While money may be the last thing on your mind as you grieve, this is still a reality. The dedicated wrongful death attorneys at The Cassidy Law Firm are here to take some of the burden you carry after such a devastating event such as the loss of a loved one. We are here to take on your legal claim to pursue full and fair recovery for the losses you have incurred so you can focus on yourself and your family during this difficult time. Contact us today.

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