After you have filed and settled a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit you will have to determine who among the surviving family members is eligible to be a beneficiary of the settlement. When there is a small family or no surviving family members, this process is quite simple and obvious. In large families or those with feuding members, the argument over the settlement division can get complicated and messy.

The wrongful death settlement shall first be used to pay all applicable attorney's fees, medical expenses and funeral costs. After the costs relating to the deceased's fatal injury are covered, the Virginia Code sets forth the order of beneficiaries who are eligible to claim the damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The order of beneficiaries includes: 

  • surviving spouse;
  • children of the deceased;
  • children of a deceased child of the deceased;
  • parents of the deceased;
  • siblings of the deceased; and
  • a dependant relative living in the same household.                                                        

Parents whose parental rights have been removed by a court decision or child welfare agency are not eligible as beneficiaries. The Virginia Code recognizes a relative as any person who is related to the deceased through blood, marriage or adoption.

In cases where there are several beneficiaries in the same class (such as multiple children), the court will typically divide the settlement according to dependency on the deceased. The more reliant the beneficiary was on the deceased for financial and emotional support, the more likely they are to have a larger portion of the settlement.

When you are looking to bring a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit against another party, you should be aware of how the settlement may be distributed. The Virginia Code sets forth the hierarchy of beneficiaries in a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit and you may need the help of a Fairfax wrongful death attorney to claim your fair share. 

Contacting a Fairfax Wrongful Death Attorney

The unexpected loss of a loved one is a difficult time in your life that shouldn't be made worse by the stress of dealing with insurance companies. Fairfax wrongful death attorney Ben Glass fights to help victims in the Virginia and D.C. areas settle their wrongful death claims. For more information, contact us today - 703-591-9829.

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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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