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Who is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits?

November 3, 2021 By Flora Templeton Stuart

Surviving Family of Wrongful Death VicitmIn most cases, there are only a few people entitled to wrongful death benefits. These include the surviving spouse, surviving children, or surviving parents of the deceased. In Kentucky, the first claimant is the spouse, then the children, then the parents, and finally, if all are dead or nonexistent, extended family members. In Tennessee, the benefits go to the spouse, children, parents, or next of kin.

Those entitled to wrongful death benefits may need to take their claim to court, which can be a long and challenging process. If you and your family are suffering after the wrongful death of your loved one, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Get in touch with a wrongful death attorney and others in your life who will support you and help you through the recovery process.

What’s In This Guide

Who Gets the Money In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The family of the deceased is entitled to the money after a typical wrongful death lawsuit. When an accident happens and causes a death, it’s the right and duty of the deceased person’s next of kin to bring the claim to the at-fault party to seek compensation. Usually, the first person who should do so is the spouse. Next, the children or parents of the deceased can bring a claim if no spouse is involved.

In general, the money simply goes to the next of kin, to those who would have benefited from it the most if the deceased had survived. The benefits given out are given in an attempt to provide the survivors with some sort of support and compensation after all they’ve suffered in the loss of their loved one. Therefore, not just anyone can seek money in a wrongful death lawsuit–only those who truly deserve it because of their relationship to the deceased.

Why Do People Sue For Wrongful Death?

People sue for wrongful death in an attempt to gain some compensation for their losses. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know that no amount of money can make up for their loss. However, if you lost support, help, and other services they may have provided, you know that having some money to recuperate that cost is very helpful.

In addition, most people want to see justice. If their loved one was killed because someone else acted carelessly (such as driving drunk and causing an accident), as is always the case in a wrongful death claim, they want that person to be in some way punished for it.

There are several types of damages that you can collect in a wrongful death claim. You might want to sue to recover:

  • Medical and end-of-life (funeral and burial) expenses paid for your loved one.
  • Property damage costs in vehicle accidents.
  • Lost wages and support that the deceased should have earned over his/her life and lost benefits.
  • Emotional pain and suffering (consortium claim of family).
  • Loss of companionship by family.
  • Loss of guidance (especially parental guidance).

The administrator, usually a family member, can file a wrongful death suit and recover some form of compensation to “pay back” these losses. In some cases, you could also seek punitive damages against the at-fault party, which is usually possible if they acted willfully or with gross indifference or intentional conduct. A common scenario in which punitive damages are awarded is in car or semi-truck accidents where the defendant was intoxicated

Filing A Suit For Wrongful Death Benefits

The process of filing a wrongful death suit can be difficult, especially when you’re dealing with so much grief. However, it’s a fairly simple process, especially with the help of a wrongful death attorney.

  1. Gather evidence. A wrongful death lawyer will hire experts to prove the defendant caused the death, including accident reconstructionists.
  2. Keep a journal. A journal with your honest thoughts and feelings can prove extremely valuable in determining the cost of non-economic damages such as your pain and suffering and loss of relationships.
  3. Retain an attorney. A personal injury lawyer is trained to deal with wrongful death claims and can ease the process of gather evidence and dealing with negotiations.
  4. File a complaint. The parties responsible for your loved one’s death must be notified by mail that you want to sue them.
  5. Conduct investigation. Your attorneys will handle most of this process. They will likely need to contact experts who can provide opinions as to how the accident and death occurred or testify to how much your damages are worth, such as an economist.
  6. Negotiate. In most cases, your attorney will negotiate with the at-fault parties to see if you can come to a settlement. This will keep the case out of court and could reduce costs.
  7. File in court. If you can’t reach a satisfactory settlement with the at-fault party, your case will go to court to be tried before a judge and jury if not settled before trial.

These are the typical steps in a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have a case, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as you can to start the process.

What Is The Definition Of Surviving Heirs?

The surviving heirs in a wrongful death suit are those who are legally entitled to recover compensation and benefits after death. These heirs are entitled to recover any benefits or property of the deceased before anyone else. The heirs may be named in the will of the deceased, or they may be appointed by law (in which case they would be the children, spouse, parent, or next of kin).

Is A Wrongful Death Suit Complicated?

Yes, a wrongful death suit is often very complicated. Understanding the laws surrounding a wrongful death claim and the types of evidence that can be used in a case is often confusing. It’s also difficult to negotiate with parties who don’t want to pay their fair share.

If you’re dealing with a wrongful death case, seek help from an experienced attorney. No personal injury attorney will charge you upfront for their services, which will save you a lot of money in the long run since pursuing a claim on your own is expensive. You want to get help as soon as you can so that your attorneys can get started gathering the evidence you need for your lawsuit.

What Types of Compensation Are Available For Wrongful Death?

As mentioned above, you can recover economic, non-economic, and punitive compensation in a wrongful death claim. Economic compensation will pay for expenses and lost income, non-economic compensation will pay for pain and suffering, and punitive compensation will pay to punish the at-fault party.

When receiving compensation, you will likely get a check as a lump sum payout. This entire check will be available for you to use as you will. In some cases, though, you may also receive your compensation as a structured settlement, which works more like monthly income. In this case, the money is released a little at a time, every month or year, to provide for you and your family. Such a settlement may be used if the main beneficiary is a minor and can’t be trusted to care for a huge sum of money all at once.

[LEARN MORE]: What are the Different Types of Wrongful Death?

Why Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

When it comes to filing a wrongful death claim, you have legal options. You have the right to file a claim and seek compensation from the person who caused your loved one’s death. Whether you settle the case through mediation or arbitration or taking it to court, you will get to see justice done and recover some compensation.

If you want help fighting your claim and seeking the compensation you deserve, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers. We have helped victims claim millions in compensation after cases like yours. We have collected millions in wrongful death cases for families who lost a loved one due to the negligence of another. Give us a call today at (888) 379-3109 for a free consultation and speak with an attorney with over 45 years of experience.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. Flora goes to work every day to make a difference in her community and the lives of her clients. When you call you will get a personal representation and an attorney who truly cares.