Wrongful death lawsuits: Can they be challenged by other family members?

Wrongful death lawsuits

The tragedy of the death of a family member can be compounded when the survivors challenge a wrongful death lawsuit in court. One member of the family or a group of them could argue that the party or parties named as recipients of a payout from the suit aren’t entitled to the money. This can turn a family member against another family member and position relationships for a lifetime. If you think it’s possible this could happen to you or are currently experiencing this process, it’s vital to know what it entails and what you can do about it.

Why file a wrongful death lawsuit?

To understand why someone would challenge a wrongful death lawsuit, it helps to understand why someone would file one in the first place. To start, a person who died wrongfully likely did or would have made significant financial contributions to the life of another, which they cannot now make, They also provided love and companionship, which is now gone. In many instances, they could have also provided future guidance, which the survivors will have to live without.

This means that the person who is the primary beneficiary of a wrongful death lawsuit can be awarded a substantial sum in a settlement or after a successful lawsuit. However, it’s unlikely that someone who does receive this is the only person that the deceased family member had close relations with. In fact, other members of the family, and even those outside of it, may dispute your claim to the compensation. You may also have to dispute if you believe another person was wrongfully awarded the compensation.

Who receives wrongful death compensation?

There is a very narrow pool of people who are entitled to wrongful death compensation. Within this pool are several different classes of individuals, each with a stronger claim than the other. This makes it vital to prove your right to file a claim. The different classes are as follows:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Dependents

Immediate family has the strongest claim to a wrongful death settlement. Typically, the spouse will have primacy of claim and will be awarded any compensation from a case. Children are typically the next in line, but if the person in question doesn’t have them, they may go to the grandparents. If none of these persons are in the life of the deceased individual in any substantial way at their time of death, the claim may be awarded to a dependent who may or may not be within their family.

How will a family member challenge a wrongful death lawsuit?

The primary way that a family member will challenge a wrongful death lawsuit is by trying to establish that the person who died did not have the type of relationship claimed by the recipient of the compensation. Other family members may attempt to argue that the survivor is not entitled to compensation or as much as they were awarded because they weren’t actually a dependent of the person who died or their relationship had become estranged. Working with a lawyer who can prove your case and establish the strength of your relationship to counter these claims is vital to preserving the compensation you’ve been awarded.

A challenge to a wrongful death lawsuit can re-open old traumas and cause new ones. However, there’s no reason to fight one of these alone if you’re facing one. With the right support, you can position yourself to achieve success in this process. Healing is a process that can take a lifetime, but with compensation for the loss of your loved one your finances at least can be secure. Taking steps to protect them now can protect yourself now and in the future.

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