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Receiving and Distributing Wrongful Death Settlements

This content about wrongful death settlements was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

Family members are entitled to pursue wrongful death claims if a loved one has passed away due to the negligent, reckless, or malicious acts of another person. Even though pursuing a wrongful death settlement does not take away the tragedy and pain experienced, it can help pay any expenses related to an untimely death. Also, a wrongful death settlement may compensate surviving family members for a variety of non-economic damages.

Damages that can be recovered

Wrongful death settlements can include compensation for a variety of losses, whether economic or non-economic. The most common economic damages in wrongful death settlements are related to funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, loss of wages, loss of household services, loss of benefits, among others. Non-economic damages such as loss of consortium, intimate relations, and guidance may also be compensated.

Nonetheless, according to California law, the estate of the decedent may only recover economic losses that affected the decedent, such as medical expenses. On the other hand, surviving family members are entitled to receive payment for both economic and non-economic losses.

How California wrongful death settlements are distributed

In California, the surviving family of the decedent has the right to decide how to distribute wrongful death settlements. It is up to them to figure out and agree upon how much each person should receive. Sometimes the majority of the settlement goes to the surviving spouse and children, while other dependents such as siblings and parents may receive a share. Families usually work together to distribute wrongful death settlements as they see fit.

However, sometimes distributing the settlement can be a source of conflict, and it might be hard for families to reach an agreement. In that case, civil courts in California have the authority to distribute the compensation among the surviving family members that are eligible. The court will take into account the financial needs of each person, such as education and housing, to determine how the settlement will be distributed.

Another course of action is mediation, which involves an impartial third-party, the parties who wish to receive a share of the settlement, and – in some cases – attorneys. This approach usually results in a swifter resolution than taking the issue to court.

Seek the counsel of a wrongful death attorney

An attorney can be a much-needed source of relief and help when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit or determining how wrongful death settlements should be distributed. Attorneys know that these cases are often very emotionally draining for the surviving family members, which is why they aim to make the process as swift and easy as possible for all the parties involved. Hiring a lawyer can help you secure the compensation you deserve to heal and move forward.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.