Wrongful death lawsuits allow you to hold someone responsible for the death of your loved one. They are particularly useful when the person faced a criminal charge and the Tennessee court or jury found him or her not guilty. Being able to file a wrongful death lawsuit allows you to hold that person responsible. In addition, you may recover compensation for your loss from that person. However, if you owe back child support payments, this could affect your settlement.
The Tennessee State Courts explains the law says a person owing child support cannot receive money from a wrongful death lawsuit. This seems straightforward, but the Tennessee Supreme Court offered clarification of what exactly this means and in which cases it applies.
If you owe back child support, it does not always mean you cannot collect compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit. The court ruled that this law only applies when the lawsuit is for the wrongful death of the child for whom you owe the back child support payments. For example, if your son dies and you owe child support for him, then you cannot claim any damages as part of a lawsuit for his death. On the other hand, if the lawsuit is for the wrongful death of your mother, then you can collect damages.
The law aims to keep a parent from collecting death benefits or damages for a child he or she did not adequately support. That is why the court made this ruling.
If you receive a settlement, though, the person to whom you owe support can make a claim against your settlement money for the back child support. So, while you may collect compensation, you may not get to keep it. This information is for education and is not legal advice.