Skip to main content

Wrongful Death Settlement: Distribution of Proceeds

Posted by attorney Edward Lake

A wrongful death settlement can stem from fatal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice and other types of injury cases. If you believe that negligence was the cause of your loved one’s death, contact a personal injury law firm in Long Island, NY to discuss your legal rights.

Distribution of Proceeds from a Wrongful Death Settlement

Each state has different laws surrounding the distribution of a settlement. InNew York, damages that address pecuniary loss (financial loss) are distributed to immediate family members.

If there is a surviving spouse and no children, the entire amount goes to the spouse. If there are children, the spouse receives $50,000, along with half of the balance. So let’s say a wrongful death settlement of $350,000 is awarded. The spouse would receive $50,000 plus half of $300,000 ($150,000), for a total of $200,000. The remaining amount ($150,000) would be divided equally among the children.

If there are only children, they will receive the entire amount, divided equally among them. Whenever children are involved, they must be of the same generation.

If there is no spouse or children, a surviving parent or parents (if both are alive) would receive the proceeds. And if there is no spouse, children or parents, then proceeds could be distributed among other family members such as siblings, nieces and nephews.

Determining the Amount of a Wrongful Death Settlement

Pecuniary loss addresses the financial loss suffered by surviving family members. This generally includes any medical expenses related to the fatal injuries.

An example would be an individual who is injured in a head-on collision. He or she may be transported by ambulance to a hospital, undergo surgery, spend time in the ICU and ultimately die. All of these costs may be included in a settlement.

During the time your loved one was in the hospital and unable to work, those earnings may be recoverable, too. Additionally, his or her future earning potential may be considered. Factored into this will be the number of years he or she was expected to work until retirement age.

Fringe benefits may be considered in a wrongful death award. These can include health insurance, pensions, 401(k) plans and other financial assets.

Lost household services may be considered a pecuniary loss. If you now must hire someone to take care of the housework, children or to perform other services, it could result in additional compensation. The costs associated with a funeral can be included in an award. Generally, these must be considered reasonable expenses.

Of course, beside the financial burden that surviving family members deal with, there are also non-economical losses. Damages that address these include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and more.

Help from a Personal Injury Law Firm in Long Island, NY

It is difficult to put a price tag on someone’s life. But when surviving family members are left to pick up the pieces, a personal injury law firm in Long Island, NY can help with the case. Call Gacovino, Lake & Associates at (800) 246-4878 to set up an appointment to discuss a wrongful death settlement.

Author of this guide:

Was this guide helpful?

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer