I am being sent a wrongful death settlement agreement form to sign along with my 2 siblings. We are to say how each one of us should like to have the proceeds of this wrongful death case divided among ourselves. At one point we were all talking, and agreed 1/3 each. Now that we are not talking, I don't know how to sign. I know If we all don't agree it could tie it up in court for a long time. I was told California was state that divides up among each of us. I have no idea how this all works, not sure each one of us had a very close relationship with deceased, but does the firm have the right to determine or if it is all 3 of us who decide how do we know what the other is deciding if no one will talk to the other.
You each need to have a conversation with your attorney. Ultimately it is up to you to decide how the proceeds should be split. If you can't agree, there is a possibility that the money could be held until a court decides. It would be best for all of you to figure it out amongst yourselves. Best of luck.
Best bet is to have the lawyer contact the siblings since you are not talking with one another. Make sure you don't sign the settlement agreement unless you agree to the fee and costs being deducted. Many lawyers take large and unreasonable fees and bill the costs to their clients instead of taking the costs from their portion.
I would recommend using the attorney handling the case as an intermediary. If the communication has ceased between you and the members of your family, the attorney will be able to bridge that gap and educate you on the best course of action.
Ilya D. Frangos, Esq.
Law Offices of Galine, Frye, & Fitting
411 Borel Ave., Suite 500
San Mateo, Ca 94402
If the matter were to proceed to trial, the jury would evaluate the extent of each claimant's damages separately, which is based generally on the loss of love, affection and companionship of the deceased. If there is limited insurance money, it would be divided in proportion to the damages award. In trying to reach a settlement, an equal division is usually the easiest agreement to make until one claimant decides they are entitled to more. Sometimes these claims can be resolved at a mediation. If you are represented, speak to your attorney about the best strategy. If you are not represented and there is not agreement as to proportional shares, you will need to talk to a personal injury attorney.
If the siblings are the only beneficiaries then I suggest that they should all get one third with the proviso that if one of the siblings stayed with the parent an inordinate amount of time and lost wages as a result of the incident, then that sibling should be made whole and then the rest of the money should be split equally. There are many other ways, such as let the poorest of the sibling take the largest share, but each family is different, so in the end it is up to each one of you to instruct your lawyer what your position is and to submit it to the lead lawyer. Best of luck.
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