Who Receives Money in a Wrongful Death Case?
Again, that depends on the state in which the malpractice resulting in the death has occurred, or if it’s a motorcycle or motor vehicle injury, the state in which the accident has occurred. If the state is Connecticut, then Connecticut has what’s called a survival statute. That means that, once you’ve passed away, you have as much right to bring a claim as if you had survived. That claim just survives to your estate, so the estate is the legal entity that represents somebody once he or she is passed away. It’s the ghost, I think of it as. Once money comes into that estate, then it would be distributed to whoever the appropriate heirs are. If there’s a will, it would be whoever the person has named as the beneficiaries in the will. If the person has died without a will, it would be the next of kin that’s spelled out by the statute.
It’s a little bit different in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has a strange wrongful death statute in that Massachusetts basically says it’s not the claim itself that survives past the person’s death, but the next kin have a claim against the wrong doer for the wrongful death. It’s a little bit different the type of damages that you can get in Massachusetts than in other states. It’s more like loss of consortium type of damages in a wrongful death case, and essentially, what the next of kin are compensated for is the relationship that they would’ve had with the person that passed away and any net income that they would have expected to derive from the person. For example, there was a family, and the breadwinner passed away as a result of a wrongful death. The methodology would be to calculate what is the net income that those specific heirs at law would have expected to derive had that person not been wrongfully killed?