‘Wrongful death’ payment can’t be tapped for child support

A woman whose ex-husband was killed in a motorcycle accident couldn’t collect back child support from the proceeds of a “wrongful death” lawsuit filed by the man’s estate, the West Virginia Supreme Court recently decided.

The estate negotiated a $300,000 settlement from the other driver’s insurance company. The mother argued that some of that money should be used to pay off the $60,000 in back child support the ex-husband owed her but never paid.

But the court said that under state law, a wrongful death lawsuit is intended to benefit a deceased person’s beneficiaries, and not his or her creditors.

You should note that the law varies on this issue from state to state, and that a lawsuit for an injury might have a very different result from a lawsuit where someone has died.

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