Distribution of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Settlement

Under New York law, when a loved one is killed due to another person’s negligence or error, their personal representative has the right to seek compensation on behalf of the survivors and dependents through a wrongful death settlement.

These claims can provide wrongful death compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical costs incurred before death, and even future losses expected over the course of a lifetime. In some cases, if there was significant recklessness or negligence involved in the accident, survivors may even be able to seek punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant for wrongdoing.

How a Wrongful Death Settlement Is Distributed

Wrongful death compensation is distributed to the survivors of the deceased, as outlined in New York’s Estate, Powers and Trusts statute. Survivors can include spouses, children or, in some cases, even parents.

Here’s how distribution works: 

  • If the victim had a spouse but no children – In the event there are no children involved, the spouse would get the full settlement of the wrongful death case.
  • If the victim had a spouse and children – When both a spouse and children are present, the spouse will get an initial $50,000 payment from the settlement. Then the remaining balance is split; half will go to the spouse and half goes to the children. If there are multiple children, that half is divided equally among them.

So for example, if the wrongful death settlement totaled $450,000, the spouse would get $50,000, bringing the total down to $400,000. That amount would be split, with $200,000 going to the spouse and $200,000 to the children. If there was one child, he or she would get the full $200,000; if there were four, they’d each get an equal share of $50,000.

  • If the victim had children but no spouse – In the event there is no spouse, the children of the victim would receive the settlement. If there is one child, he or she would get the full settlement amount. If there are multiple children, the settlement would be divided equally among them.
  • If the victim had no spouse and no children, but one or both parents was still living – If the victim did not have a spouse or children at the time of death, the settlement amount would go to one or both of his or her parents, if they are still living. In the event only one is still living, he or she would receive the settlement in full. If there are two living and they are no longer married, they each would receive an equal share.
  • If the victim had no spouse, children or parents living – If the victim did not have any surviving spouse, children or parents, the wrongful death settlement would then go to their siblings or, if they are not living, their children.

While grandchildren are not specifically listed as beneficiaries under New York state law, it is possible for them to receive some portion of a loved one’s wrongful death settlement in certain circumstances. If their parent – the child of the deceased – died before the victim did, then the share that child was entitled to in the settlement will be split equally amongst his or her own children – the victim’s grandchildren.

Help with a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death cases can be extremely complicated. Anyone who has lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing is encouraged to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help determine who is eligible for the wrongful death settlement.

Survivors of New York area victims should call 800-246-HURT (4878) to speak to an attorney at Gacovino Lake & Associates today to get started.

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