In most personal injury cases, the victim collects the damages. But in a wrongful death lawsuit, the money goes to those connected personally to the deceased. This begs the question, who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit? The lawyers at Eltringham Law Group Personal Injury & Car Accident Attorneys provide the answers.
If you lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, do not hesitate to contact our wrongful death lawyers in Florida. We will get you the compensation and closure you need to move forward with your life.
Who Are the Possible Wrongful Death Beneficiaries?
Anyone who relied on the deceased for emotional or financial support is considered a wrongful death beneficiary. These include the following:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children (this includes minor children, adult children, children born out of wedlock, and children born after the victim’s death).
- The parents of the deceased if the deceased was under 25 years old.
- Other blood relatives, adoptive children, and siblings dependent on the deceased.
- The deceased’s estate
How to Divide a Wrongful Death Settlement
Typically, one or more of the wrongful death beneficiaries is appointed to act as the Personal Representative (the PR) of the deceased victim’s Estate. The PR is vested with the legal power & authority to file a lawsuit, prosecute, and settle any legal claims on behalf of the Estate.
When there is a favorable jury verdict or an agreed financial settlement there are laws in place regarding how the settlement money is divided. These vary from state to state. Most courts will honor agreements made by adult survivors on how the settlement should be dispersed.
If the survivors cannot agree on how the money will be divided, the court may be brought in to handle the matter.
Florida law will honor agreements made by surviving relatives with special considerations as follows:
- Minor children must be provided with enough money to cover their needs until adulthood. A guardian will often be appointed to ensure the money is handled responsibly.
- Dependent adults, such as those with dementia or another type of disability who were financially dependent on the deceased, may have the same considerations as minor children.
- Liens or third-party debts (e.g., hospital, ambulance, and other debts) on the deceased’s Estate are deducted from the portion of the damages received by the Estate.
- If a settlement is agreed on before the wrongful death case goes to court, the court must approve the settlement, especially if minor children are involved.
- If the spouse is appointed as the decedent’s personal representative, an administrator ad litem may be brought in to ensure the money is fairly distributed among all eligible relatives.
- Attorney fees are usually paid by the personal representative and deducted from the awards for the survivors and the estate. The amount deducted is proportionate to the money damages received.
What Is the “Free Kill Exemption” in Florida Medical Malpractice cases?
The “Free Kill Exemption” is a statutory loophole that applies to Florida medical malpractice cases that result in a death. If an adult patient dies due to medical malpractice, only children under the age of 25 and the surviving spouse of the deceased patient are eligible to collect money damages.
Shockingly, the deceased patient’s surviving adult children over 25 years old are not eligible to receive any compensation whatsoever for the negligent death of their loved one. This exemption likewise extends to the parents of the deceased adult patient.
The exemption was created over 30 years ago to make Florida a more attractive location for doctors by protecting them from substantial medical malpractice payouts. Sadly, the Free Kill Exemption disproportionately affects the elderly, because it’s that segment of Florida’s population who most frequently require the kind of medical care & treatment that can often result in death if performed incorrectly. Although several attempts were made to repeal the exemption, it remains in place.
How We Can Help with Your Florida Wrongful Death Claim
Eltringham Law Group Personal Injury & Car Accident Attorneys will take some of the stress away of losing a loved one by managing your wrongful death case. Our team will advise you on who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit and how to divide a wrongful death settlement accordingly among beneficiaries.
We promise compassionate service and follow-through so that you get the closure and compensation you deserve. Contact us about your wrongful death claim today.