When you file a wrongful death case, you will pursue damages. Damages are financial compensation for a breach of duty or negligence that caused you harm. Typically damages are divided depending on each survivor’s relationship to the decedent and how much they were dependent on them.

If a wrongful death case goes to trial, a jury will determine how much each survivor should get based on these factors. If the case settles before going to trial, generally the family will either agree on fair distribution or have the claim arbitrated by an arbitrator who is most commonly a retired judge. The arbitrator will listen to statements from each survivor and review the case in order to make the determination regarding the dispersion of funds.

According to polling by Gallup, less than half of adults in America have a will. However, if the decedent had a will, compensation would be distributed based on the language of the will. If the victim did not have a will, funds would be dispersed amongst the qualified heirs.

Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Qualified heirs and the surviving dependents of the deceased are the individuals eligible to file a lawsuit. This varies by state statutes.

For example, in some states including Maine, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, only a personal representative of the deceased victim is qualified to file a lawsuit. A personal representative, or the executor of the state, would have to file a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members.

In other states, individual family members can file wrongful death lawsuits but it is generally limited to the victim’s spouse, children, parents, and other immediate family members. If the only surviving heirs are minors, a guardian would be assigned by the court in order for the minors to pursue a wrongful death action.

Should Multiple Heirs Hire Separate Lawyers?

If possible, it is best if the surviving heirs of the decedent can agree on one attorney so that their case is handled by someone who understands all aspects of the lawsuit. If there are disputes over how compensation is divided, that can easily be addressed with mediation or arbitration—having the same attorney would not be an issue.

The Ferraro Law Firm’s Wrongful Death Lawyers Are Here to Help

Wrongful death law can be complicated and an unwelcome burden when dealing with the death of a loved one. At The Ferraro Law Firm, our wrongful death attorneys have decades of experience handling different types of wrongful death claims and fighting for maximum compensation on behalf of victims and their surviving family members. Our lawyers and staff understand how difficult these types of cases can be for families, and is fully prepared to advocate on your behalf with compassion and empathy.

If you lost a loved one and someone else’s negligence was at play, contact The Ferraro Law Firm today for a free legal consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death lawyers.