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In a Wrongful Death Case With Multiple Heirs, How Are Damages Divided?

Protecting the Rights of Surviving Family Members in Waukegan, IL

When a wrongful death action is filed on behalf of multiple surviving family members, any damages that are awarded will be divided by the court based on each family member’s degree of dependency upon the decedent. The allocation must also account for any contributory fault on the part of the decedent or the beneficiary.

When a person is killed as the result of another party’s negligence or reckless actions, the law in Illinois allows a Special Administrator to file a wrongful death action against the alleged wrongdoer on behalf of the victim’s surviving family. The process is handled in such a way that all claims of wrongful death must be consolidated into a single action. This means that many wrongful death cases have multiple individuals who are seeking compensation.

Assuming that the action is successful and damages are available to the surviving family members, the court is responsible for determining who will get what percentage of the award. In making this determination, the court will hold a hearing to establish the degree of dependency on the decedent by surviving family members. The court must also take into account the sum total of all the percentages of dependency and any fault for the death that lies with the decedent or any of his or her dependents.

For example, if there are three survivors in a wrongful death case—one spouse and two children, and the spouse is found to be 75 percent dependent on the decedent, while one child is 50 percent dependent and the other 25 percent dependent, the total percentage of dependency is 150 percent. Each dependent’s portion of the total would equal their portion of the damages. The spouse would be entitled to 75 divided by 150, or 50 percent. The more dependent child would be entitled to 33.3 percent, and the other would receive about 17 percent.

Contact Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. for Help

As you can see, allocating wrongful death damages to multiple heirs is a complex undertaking, but an experienced attorney can help. Contact our office for a confidential consultation regarding your case today. Call 847-662-3303 to schedule an appointment. We have four convenient offices and serve the entire Chicago area including Wheaton, Richmond, Chicago, and Waukegan.

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