Grief can be insufferable, especially when dealing with the loss of a loved one. Wrongful death incidents only magnify  the suffering and pain, taking a terrible toll on family and friends. Unfortunately, the financial dilemma caused by a loved one’s death can devastate the victim’s family when they are left without the support of  the loved  one’s income. After  the initial shock and grief subside, family members can seek legal assistance to compensate for their damages and losses. 

When you work with a  reputable and experienced Boston wrongful death attorney, filing a wrongful death claim can help you get compensation for the loss . But there is an  obvious question that may come to mind: Who receives the money from a wrongful death lawsuit? Before we try to answer that question, let’s go through this quick summary that explains what wrongful death is according to  the law. 

Basically, wrongful death means that someone is held  responsible for another person’s  death due to their negligence or to wilfully causing the death. This includes when the death was caused by  an intention to cause harm or damage. As per Massachusetts law, negligence means someone caused the death by carelessness, failure to act, or inattention. 

Wrongful death lawsuits are not considered criminal cases; they only deal with  the financial losses owed by a defendant. The jury may deliver a verdict once the plaintiff proves the wrongful death scenario, granting maximum compensation. Of course, determining who is liable in such a situation is done by considering all the details of the laws involved.

What Else Do You Need to Know? 

In any region of the state of Massachusetts, a layman may not be knowledgeable enough to file a  lawsuit. Instead, they may need to seek help from an experienced attorney specializing in wrongful death lawsuit settlements. 

In the lawsuit, the representative is the individual who is identified  as the trustee of the estate . If there is no legal will naming someone as the trustee, the law automatically  allows the spouse the title of the representative’s estate.

When the deceased has no  legal partner, a knowledgeable heir is chosen to represent the estate . In the absence of either , a dedicated probate jury member has the right to appoint someone else as the owner of the assets. In  the case of a minor’s wrongful death, both parents hold equal rights if they are legally married or are living  with each other. If not , the parent with the legal right to the minor gets the utmost priority according to  the law. 

The court allocates the compensation from the lawsuit’s verdict based on Massachusetts intestate succession laws and estate administration. These laws decide how to allocate assets when someone passes away without a will, but they are also brought into action in Massachusetts even if the deceased has left a will. 

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The answer to that question depends entirely on the circumstances and how well your Boston wrongful death attorney carries the lawsuit  forward. If the deceased person :

  • Was married with children, an initial amount of $50,000, and half of the remaining balance goes to the spouse. The rest  is equally allocated to the children. 
  • Was married with no living parents or children, the spouse receives  the entire compensation amount. 
  • Was  married with dependent children from outside the marriage, half of the compensation goes to the spouse, and the children receive the rest. 
  • Had dependent children but was  not legally married, the children get the entire compensation. 
  • Was  married but had surviving parents and no children, $100,000 plus  half of any amount above that  goes to the legal spouse. The rest of the amount is received by the parents. 
  • Had no children and was  not married, his or her parents get the entire compensation.
  • Did not have children, parents, or a spouse, the surviving siblings receive the money. 
  • Did not have a  legal spouse, parents, dependent children, or siblings, the next closest family member receives the compensation. 

Ultimately, the details of the law are easy to summarize but complicated to apply. This is especially difficult when you are  seeking justice for your loved one’s loss while also coming to grips with the fact that you will never get to see them again. Wrongful  death lawsuits are extremely complicated, and they get even more intricate when multiple family members are involved . 

If you have any questions related to wrongful death lawsuits  or have lost your loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact our industry-experienced wrongful death attorneys. We at Swartz Law have been leaders in successfully representing these lawsuits for many years. We assure you that we will  be compassionate and supportive, listening to your concerns and treating you with absolute empathy, sensitivity, and respect as we uncompromisingly pursue the compensation you deserve for this life-changing loss.

For more information on our services, arrange an appointment with one of attorneys in our Boston office by calling (617) 742-1900, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.


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If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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