Q: With a wrongful death settlement, can it be fought if it isn't split even between siblings?
My mom is about to receive a "wrongful death" settlement for the death of my grandmother. My grandmother was also already going through the process of sueing before she passed. My grandmother did not have a written will, but my mom was her medical power of attorney. My grandmother also had verbally told my mother before she passed, that she didn't want one of my uncle's to see a dime of the money. With eye witnesses in the room. Can my moms brother fight this? (I am asking for my mother.)
Yes, he can fight to receive a share of the wrongful death settlement. Whether he is successful depends on the facts, particularly the nature of his relationship with your grandmother. In West Virginia, a judge must approve the amount of a wrongful death settlement, the amount of the attorney's fee, and the distribution of the settlement to those who are entitled to make a claim to a portion of the settlement. The wrongful statute in West Virginia states:
"In every such action for wrongful death, the jury, or in a case tried without a jury, the court, may award such damages as to it may seem fair and just, and, may direct in what proportions the damages shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, including adopted children and stepchildren, brothers, sisters, parents and any persons who were financially dependent upon the decedent at the time of his or her death or would otherwise be equitably entitled to share in such distribution."
It will be up to judge to determine if your uncle receives anything, and it largely depends on the loss of the relationship suffered by your uncle. If he cannot show that he suffered a loss from the death of his mother, the judge can award him nothing. The conversation between your grandmother and uncle might be considered by the judge in determining what your uncle receives.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.