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Wrongful death cases occur when someone causes the death of another person through negligent or criminal actions. If you bring a case to court and the court rules in your favor, the law states how the court must divide any damages.

The U.S. Department of Justice explains the distribution of wrongful death damages considers who is most financially impacted by the death.

Spouse rights

If the person had a spouse, then the spouse gets half of any damages before anyone else can get some. If the spouse is the only close relative, then he or she may get all damages.

If the deceased person has children, they will receive some of the damages. The spouse gets half and then the child gets the rest. If there is more than one child, though, the spouse only gets one-third, and the children evenly divide the remainder.  If a child has also died prior to this, his or her children get the share.

If there are no children, the spouse gets half, and then the parents of the person get the rest. If there are no living parents, but the person has siblings, the siblings will split the remaining half.

No Spouse

If there is no spouse, children are first in line to get any damages. After that, the parents get the damages. If there are no parents, then the siblings will get it. If a person dies without any close relatives, then the next of kin under the law would get the damages.

In most cases, the estate will file the wrongful death case so that distribution can more easily occur.

Wrongful death occurs when one person causes the death of another person through negligent actions. If you lose a close relative, you may be able to file such a claim in court.

However, FindLaw explains that you will need to ensure your case meets the general guidelines to prove wrongful death occurred. Keep in mind, you do not have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard for this type of case, which is a civil matter, only requires a preponderance of the evidence. Meaning you simply need to show the person had a liability in the case.

Personal representative

There should be a personal representative for the estate of the deceased person. The representative is someone who handles the affairs of the person and the estate. He or she acts on behalf of the person who died.

A death

In a wrongful death case, the person must be dead. If he or she is simply injured, then the case cannot move forward. You would need to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Monetary loss

You must be able to show the death of the person caused the family to have some monetary loss. For example, if a father died, it would be simple to show the loss of his income had an impact on the family.


Perhaps the key point to show in your case is the other person was negligent in some way. The negligence must have been the thing to lead to the death. You can also show an intent to cause harm, which led to the fatality.

You will want to review your case prior to filing with the court to avoid a waste of time and money. All elements should be present.

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