If you have lost your loved one due to negligence or another person’s fault, it is right to seek justice and sue the responsible party for wrongful death. Though this may not replace the loss, it can help deal with medical and funeral expenses, lost companionship, and damages.
Wrongful death claims mainly exist when the victim dies because of a legal fault of another person. This means that, for the claim to be valid, the defendant must be legally liable for the accident or deed.
The claims can involve any type of fatal accident such as slips and falls, car accidents, workplace accidents, product liability cases, or medical malpractice cases. Government agencies, companies, or individual persons can be legally at fault for acting intentionally or negligently and costing someone their life.
The right to file for a lawsuit and the laws that govern it are different in every state. Therefore, it is important to obtain an experienced wrongful death lawyer in your state to help you with the claim and advise you on your legal parameters.
Who Makes the Claim?
All wrongful death claims are filed by a party who acts as the survivor’s representative, also known as the real parties of interest. The representative, in this case, should be the executor of the deceased estate.
Though the real parties of interest differ from state to state, some of the people who can legally make a wrongful death claim include the following:
Spouses, Children, and Parents
Immediate family members are allowed to make a wrongful death claim in all states. This includes spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. The law also allows legally adopted children to make a claim. In cases where the deceased was a single adult, their parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
There are times when disputes arise amongst family members who should file the lawsuit. The courts only allow one suit per victim. In cases where there are two or more lawsuits filed, the court will consolidate the claims into one lawsuit.
Putative Spouses and Life Partners
A putative spouse is anyone who believes that they were married to the victim. In some states, domestic life partners and putative spouses are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit, so long as they were financially dependent on the deceased. If you fall under this category, you may need to prove that the victim was indeed your partner or spouse.
Any Financial Dependent
Some states allow anyone who suffers a financial loss to claim for lost support or care, regardless of whether they are related to the victim. Financial dependents can include a child they were sponsoring through school.
Distant family members like grandparents, sisters, or brothers can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in some states. For example, a grandparent or relative who has to take care of a child or children if their parent(s) was the victim can claim. In cases where the victim was a single adult, and their parents are deceased, distant relatives can also file a lawsuit.
Parents of a Deceased Fetus
If a fetus’s death was due to negligence or medical malpractice, the parents could sue for wrongful death in some states.
Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer when Filing a Lawsuit
Before filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is essential to talk to an experienced lawyer and check your state laws to know if the claim is valid in your state. Your lawyer will advise you on how to handle the claim and also be your legal representative in court or when dealing with insurance companies.