Losing a loved one in an accident or due to someone else’s negligence is a tough situation. After you get over the initial shock and upset, you may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This holds the person responsible for your loved one’s death and can help you recover damages. While getting money will not bring your loved one back, it can help to lessen the burden. California restricts who can file a wrongful death suit to only those who were reliant on the person financially in some way. So, it makes sense that you would benefit from receiving damages in a law suit.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the law is also specific in who receives what when a wrongful death lawsuit results in damages. Above everyone else who may stake a claim in this type of case, the spouse of the deceased person takes first claim at any damages. If there is only a spouse surviving, that person gets all of the damages awarded.

However, if there are children, this changes. The spouse and one child will share damages 50/50/ If there is more than one child, the spouse gets one-third and the children split the remaining amount.

If there are no children, but the deceased person’s parents or siblings want to go in on the lawsuit, then the spouse gets half and the others split the rest. If the only surviving relatives are the parents, they would get the whole amount of damages. If there are only children, they would get everything.

The basic rule is the nearest living relative, which starts with the spouse, gets the largest portion of any damages. This information is for education and is not legal advice.