Wrongful death claims happen when someone causes the death of another person due to negligence. If you go to court with a claim and win damages, you may wonder what happens next.
The U.S. Department of Justice explains that California will disburse the damages through the next of kin process. It is similar to what happens when someone dies without a will.
The spouse will typically receive at least half of the damages. The exceptions to this are when there is more than one child or the deceased and the spouse had a legal separation at the time of death. If there is no other family, all damages go to the spouse.
If there is more than one child, the spouse gets one-third of the awarded amount. The children will then divide the rest evenly. When the deceased has children but no spouse, the children receive all of the damages. Grandchildren of the deceased do not receive any damages unless their parent, i.e., the child of the deceased, has also passed away.
For a decedent that does not have any children, half will go to the spouse, and the parents will receive the remaining amount. If the deceased had no kids or spouse, then the parents will get the damages. In both of these cases, if the parents of the deceased have died, the children of the parents will split the parents’ shares equally.
The process of dividing damages can be complex when there are many surviving family members. It can also become tricky when some people think they deserve more than the law states. However, the bottom line is the state has a set process for distribution. Those entitled to receive damages will need to go through the court to claim their share.