Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

The unexpected death of a loved one is something no one wants to experience. If this has happened to you, it is vital you know what to do if you are eligible to collect compensation for losses you have incurred due to the incident.

Who Can File?

For a wrongful death lawsuit to be valid, only certain individuals may make a claim against the negligent or responsible party. In most states, these types of claims can only be made by a designated beneficiary. These individuals are often the spouse or children of the deceased. Other individuals who may be eligible include:

  • Adopted children
  • Parents of unmarried children
  • Unmarried partners
  • Other family members including siblings and grandparents
  • Dependents or anyone financially affected by the death (in some states this can include individuals who are not related by blood or marriage)

These laws do not apply in all states. Some states use another system in which a wrongful death claim can only be filed by the estate of the deceased. The person in charge of this would be a representative of the estate as named in a will or trust or appointed by the probate court. This individual would bring the suit under their own name in most cases, but the compensation would be put into a special trust to be distributed to named beneficiaries.

If you are the parent of an unborn child who passed away due to a negligent incident, some states allow you to file a wrongful death lawsuit whereas others do not. In the states which do not allow this, if the child was born and then passed away shortly after, this can then be grounds for a lawsuit.

When Is a Claim Valid?

There are certain requirements which must be met for this type of case to be valid. As a rule of thumb, this is usually if the victim would have had a personal injury claim had they not passed away. Valid scenarios include negligent actions by an individual or business, medical malpractice and intentional crimes.

To ensure you have a valid case and that it is handled fairly, speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. He or she will be well versed in the laws of your state and know the statutes of limitations that must be met to keep your claim valid. They will also be able to help gather evidence and improve your chances of collecting a fair settlement to compensate you for your losses. Compensation can include current and future financial losses, the victim’s pain and suffering, medical and funeral costs, loss of consortium, guidance, and nurturing for young children who lose a parent, inheritance, and more.