The distribution of the monies received in a successful Tennessee wrongful death case is described in this post.
Funeral expenses are re-paid to the person who paid the funeral bills. (Note: the actual law on this issue is a little unclear, but this is what generally occurs.)
Medical expense monies generally must re-paid to the person or insurance company (or government entity) that paid the medical bills. (Once again, there are some who take a different position on this issue, depending on who paid the bills, but this is what generally occurs.)
Damages awarded for the wrongful death portion of the award are generally divided between the “beneficiaries” under the law of intestate succession. For example, in a lawsuit where the decedent leaves a wife and two children behind, each of the three are “beneficiaries” under the law and each receives one-third of the pecuniary loss.
If the decedent left a wife and three children, the wife would receive 1/3 of the recovery and each child would receive an equal share of the remaining two-thirds.
If the decedent left no spouse and four children, each child would receive an equal share. If the decedent left no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents would each receive 50% of the money.
If the decedent left no parents, spouse or children, the decedent’s siblings would split the money equally.
There are several exceptions to these general rules. For example, a parent that refused to support a minor child may lose rights to collect money if the child becomes a wrongful death victim. Likewise, a person who murders another person cannot be a wrongful death beneficiary and forfeits all rights to a wrongful death recovery. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you understand the rules of distribution of wrongful death proceeds. Call us at 866-812-8787 or complete our on-line Contact form to discuss your potential case with us.