Without the help of a lawyer, a grieving family should not expect to win a wrongful death case. Still, lawyers play no part in the actual filing for such a case. That act must be performed by a select group of family members.

What position do those eligible have on the genealogical tree of the deceased victim?

The status of the eligible family members varies from state to state. In some states, only the deceased’s spouse, children and parents can sue the defendant, the person whose negligence caused the untimely passing of a loved one. In other states that list of eligible claim-filers has been lengthened, so that it includes the grandparents, the grandchildren and all siblings.

No “fruit” that used to hang on the deceased’s genealogical tree, but no longer does, gets viewed by the court as eligible to file for a wrongful death case. That means that no ex-wife or husband can go after someone that has killed a former spouse. By the same token, no step-son or step-daughter can seek money from a negligent defendant, someone held responsible for helping to kill a step mother or father.

Of course, the court has no control over how the award money finally gets distributed, once it has been delivered to those that sued the defendant. For instance, if the true daughter and the step daughter had become as close as real sisters, the true daughter of the deceased might agree to give a portion of her award to the step-sister.

What happens if the deceased has filed a survival action?

That leads to creation of a document that directs the dispersal of any benefits. Such a document must have been created while the deceased loved one was still alive. The existence of such a document dictates the way that the deceased’s estate gets shared by the surviving relatives.

A Personal Injury Lawyer in Vaughan appointed by the family must distribute the estate’s holdings according to the will, the one which was made by the deceased. The family members might gather for the reading of that will. Alternately, the lawyer might send the terms of the will to the surviving family members. The latter approach normally gets used if the deceased has chosen to share his or her inheritance with only the closest of relatives.

Here again, lawyers have no control over how any amount of money willed to specific relatives gets distributed among all the living relatives. For instance, if an elderly and childless man or woman has failed to mention a certain niece or nephew, the other nieces and nephews have the right to share a part of their inheritance with that unmentioned relative, most likely a cousin, a brother or a sister.