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How is Compensation Divided Among Family Members in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing a loved one because of another person’s negligence is even harder. When a reckless driver, irresponsible medical care provider, or negligent manufacturer is responsible for your loved one’s passing, it is important to know that the law is on your side.

Surviving family members have a legal right to seek compensation after a wrongful death. We know that no amount of money can replace the loss of your loved one or ease your pain. However, you and your family should not have to suffer crippling financial burdens during this time of grief.

After the loss of a loved one, an experienced Oakland wrongful death attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Yet before you file a wrongful death claim, it is important to know how the court divides compensation amongst family members.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Oakland, California

California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 outlines which family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim. According to California law, surviving spouses, domestic partners, and children have the first right to file. If there are no surviving spouses or children, then parents and other family members who financially relied upon the deceased may file a claim.

A wrongful death claim seeks to compensate surviving family members for their losses. In general, surviving family members can recover both economic and noneconomic losses. The estate of the deceased may only seek to recover economic losses.

These losses can include costs for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical costs
  • Decedent’s pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Family’s mental pain and anguish
  • Punitive damages

In California, surviving family members can decide how to divide the compensation they receive. All family members who file a claim must work together to reach an agreement on how much each person receives.

What Happens When Family Members Do Not Agree?

When family members do not agree, the court may need to decide how to distribute a wrongful death settlement. To do this, the court will assess the situation closely to decide the best way to divide the money between the surviving family members. It will examine the financial needs of each eligible person, as well as the relationship to the deceased.

In order to keep the court from deciding how to divide a wrongful death settlement, family members may turn to mediation. This process allows disagreeable parties to work with an unbiased third party to arrive at a mutual decision. This is not a court trial, so it is considerably faster than taking the matter to court. Mediation is often the preferred alternative dispute method used.

Contact Our Oakland Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

If someone else’s negligence resulted in the death of your loved one, the law is on your side. You may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. While no amount of compensation could ever undo the pain and suffering you have gone through, you and your family should not have to suffer financially as well.

Contact the Oakland wrongful death attorneys at Heinrich Law at (510) 944-0110 or fill out our confidential form for a free initial consultation and review of your case. We are conveniently located in Oakland and serve all individuals and families throughout the Bay Area. Call us today!