Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Posted in: Wrongful Death | Aug 03,2021


The unexpected loss of a loved one hits hard. When that life has been taken as the result of another’s fault, the loss is compounded by the fallout. What might have been a personal injury case takes on a whole new dimension for the survivors. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and other relatives must deal with the personal loss of a family member and the emotional toll of a preventable and avoidable loss. In addition, it falls upon family members to fight through the financial and before unforeseen dimensions of the loss. Wrongful death cases require experience and understanding. Just one of the questions for survivors becomes, who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit?

This question comes from a difficult place–a place the survivors did not seek. Whether through someone else’s negligence, inaction or intentional malfeasance, the survivors find themselves in the difficult position of learning their rights and protections under the law and understanding how a wrongful death lawsuit is file

The attorneys at Montross Miller know how to uncover the facts and circumstances of a case and make them known and understood not only by the survivors, but also to the insurance company and lawyers representing the responsible party. We don’t take every case, because we know the resources required to take on and win these cases. The insurance companies know our reputation. They know we do not take on wrongful death cases lightly. And they know we come prepared and will go to court to fight for you if necessary.

What is Wrongful Death?

Before you asked who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit, you may have first asked, “what exactly qualifies as a wrongful death?” That is a perfectly valid question, and understanding the basics can help you approach your legal team with the confidence that you are doing the right thing for the family or estate of the deceased. A few of the common examples of wrongful death include:

  • Wrongful death from intentional action meant to cause harm.
  • Wrongful death due to negligence on the road.
    •  Drunk or reckless driver. This could involve semi-trucks, motorcycles, bicycles or pedestrians.
  • Medical malpractice.
    • The duty to adhere to a standard of care was not met. This could include mis-prescribed medicine, misdiagnosed illness or neglect.
  • Nursing home patient abuse or neglect.
  • Property neglect.
    • Unrestrained dogs
    • Unmaintained sidewalks or infrastructure in dangerous disrepair
  • Worker’s compensation.
    • Usually a separate case, but not always. Wrongful death at work may fall under the umbrella of worker’s comp no-fault coverage designed to protect employers and employees in the event of a death at work. It’s important to understand the details and when a worker’s compensation case can be more than that.

With wrongful death lawsuits, the burden of proof rests on the family or estate to show negligence on the part of others that led to death.

Do I owe money up front for legal representation? And how are damage rewards paid?

With Montross Miller, a case evaluation is free. And you pay nothing if there is no recovery. We are a trusted counselor who puts your case first, so we work on a contingency fee plus cost recovery basis. If there is no recovery, you are not responsible for the costs incurred. If there is a recovery, the attorney fee is a percentage of the amount recovered and is paid out of money from the settlement of the verdict.


Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit? Eligible persons include spouses, siblings, half-siblings, parents and children of the deceased. Compensation is divided amongst the survivors in the immediate family. The qualifier for eligibility is there must have been a level of financial dependence prior to the death. If there is a spouse and children surviving the victim, the spouse will get the first $30,000 plus half of the settlement that remains. The children will get the other half, divided equally. If there are surviving parents but no spouse, the parents will share equally.  

Dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one is difficult and challenging emotionally. The burden of navigating the legal and financial ramifications can be lifted with the help of an experienced team. Wrongful death lawsuits require the aggressive pursuit of truth and thoughtful consideration of an experienced wrongful death attorney. Contact us for a free case evaluation.