Who Is a Beneficiary That Can Collect Damages in an Vermont fatal car accident.

Asked over 1 year ago - Barre, VT

My daughter was in a car crash and left two miner children , she had no spouse!. She also left behind three sisters. I now have full guardianship and also I am the admin. of the estate. (1) How should the settlement be split up ?( 2) Is it something that I do, or is that something that the court dose? (3) If the Ins. Co. wants to make a settlement (3) Would this be a Car Accidents settlement or a wrongful death ?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Christian K. Lassen II

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    Answered . Vermont's wrongful death statute provides that the personal representative of the estate may be awarded for "pecuniary injuries." 14 V.S.A. ยง 1492(b). "Pecuniary injuries" are not limited to purely economic losses and may include recovery for loss of companionship, as well as a compensation for lost intellectual, moral and physical training, or the loss of care, nurture and protection. Clymer v. Webster, 156 Vt. 614, 629-630 (1991); Mobbs v. Central Vermont Ry, 150 Vt. 311, 316 (1988).

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  2. Lars A. Lundeen

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    Answered . I am sorry to learn of the passing of your daughter. I am sure this has been a trying time for you and her children.

    Since the car collision resulted in your daughter's demise, it is technically a claim for wrongful death. The statute of limitations in Vermont for resolving a wrongful death claim is shorter than the three-year statute of limitations on a car accident which does not result in death. Beneficiaries entitled to collect under Vermont's Wrongful Death Statute are defined in the statute. Of course, her 2 young children are included under the statute. Parents of an adult child also can benefit under the statute. Other people who were dependent on your daughter, should such people exist, are also entitled to recover. Siblings of the decedent may or may not be entitled to recover, depending on their dependency. Depending upon how long your daughter survived between the time of collision and the time of her demise, she would have a survival action for her pain and suffering, recovery for which would flow to the estate and also be divided among her heirs. Wrongful death damages for beneficiaries do not become part of the estate assets, but rather flow directly to the statutory beneficiaries. Creditors cannot attach any of those funds to pay any outstanding debts of the decedent.

    Settlements on behalf of any minors must be approved by the Court. A guardianship of the property of the minor children will be established through the Probate Court to protect the children's recovery until they reach the age of 18. Generally all wrongful death settlements are subject to court approval. When beneficiaries cannot agree upon a division of the recovery, the Court can be called upon to make a determination. Often times all beneficiaries will agree to a division and it is simply a matter of the court's signing off on the agreement.

    It is important that an attorney help determine all possible sources of insurance coverage in these types of situations, with particular attention paid to the possible sources of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Of particular concern in these types of situations is when minor children may live between 2 different households. Vermont law is rather liberal in finding coverage under policies held by the noncustodial parent. The facts should be reviewed by a competent personal injury attorney to help establishan additional coverage.

    I would suggest that you provide no statements at all to any of the insurance carriers involved and seek assistance of counsel as soon as possible. You should remember that the sole goal of any insurance carrier, including your own uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier, is to pay nothing or as little as possible on any claim. They are neither your friend nor your good neighbor.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.
  3. Albert Lee Crosner

    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . I am a California personal injury attorney and I believe that what you should do is to contact a personal injury attorney there in your local area of Vermont. Most personal injury attorneys will provide you with a free consultation. You can talk to several attorneys and then choose one to help you out. I am sorry to hear about the death of your daughter and that her two minor children now have no mother. You really need to get help quickly. Do not settle with the insurance carrier until you have a personal injury attorney review the circumstances of the accident and many of the other factors that should be reviewed. Take the advice of the attorney. Best of luck.

    Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The... more
  4. Jason Todd Studinski

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . I am so sorry for your loss and for the position you are in now. I believe the benficiary, as you put it, would be your daughter's children.

    I strongly urge you to consult with a local experienced personal injury lawyer to advise you on your options. Obviously, this is a serious case and you want the best result possible. A good lawyer can add tremendous value.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.

  5. Christopher Steven Hoffmann

    Contributor Level 14

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    Answered . In a wrongful death case resulting from a fatal accident, each state has their own law regarding the wrongful death beneficiary designations. If there is a settlement from the fatal accident, typically states have one of two options which include statutorily set percentages or apportionment by the Court at their discretion. Call a local lawyer for the law in your state.

    24 Hour Attorney Call Center (314) 361-4242 or visit us on the Web at http://www.hoffmannpersonalinjury.com.

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