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How does the court distribute wrongful death damages?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2020 | Personal Injury |

Being able to sue for the wrongful death of a loved one is your right. It enables you to hold the responsible accountable for his or her actions through monetary means. It is a civil action, which means there are no criminal repercussions as a result of the case. The court will, however, award financial payment if you win.

Who gets the payments from a court order, though, depends on a few factors concerning relationships to the deceased. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, New York disperses damages to those who have a close relationship with the deceased.

Intestate laws

The court will generally follow intestate laws, which are the laws it follows in probate when someone dies without a will. If you are the spouse of the deceased and he or she had no children, then you will receive the full damage payment. However, if he or she has children, then you will get 50% and the balance will divide among the children equally.

If the deceased is your parent and he or she was not married, then you and your siblings will divide the damage payment. If the deceased had no spouse or children, then his or her parents receive the full payment.

If the deceased has no spouse, children or parents, then the next of kin, which is those close relatives within the same generation, will divide the settlement.


In most cases, the court distributes damages to only those in the closest generation, but there is an exception when damages should go to a sibling or child who has also died but who has children of his or her own. In this case, the children of that person can get their parent’s share of the damages.