Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, unintentional injuries are the fifth-leading cause of death in America for people under 35. The top three causes of accidental deaths are car accidents, poisonings, and falls.
If you lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, you may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. But determining who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit is tricky, which is why it’s best to seek these damages with the help of an experienced legal professional.
Family Members Can Pursue Wrongful Death Claims
The specifics of who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim depend on your state’s laws. However, every state allows immediate family members to pursue wrongful death damages. In most cases, this is the deceased’s:
- Child or next of kin
- Parents or legal guardians
If the deceased was an unmarried adult, many states allow distant relatives to bring a wrongful death claim. This includes siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. However, to recover financial compensation, you may need to prove how the death caused you monetary or emotional damages, such as a loss of benefits, guidance or support.
Keep in mind that most courts only allow one wrongful death claim per deceased. That means a sibling, spouse, and uncle cannot seek a case for the same individual. Instead, the courts will consolidate the claim into one civil lawsuit.
Who Files a Lawsuit if the Deceased Has a Will?
In the event that the fatal party possessed a will, the courts appoint a personal representative or executor to pursue the wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative could be an individual or a company hired to handle the deceased’s estate.
If this occurs, the appointed representative has to pursue the lawsuit. Once they secure compensation, the rep will pay off the deceased’s remaining debts, such as medical bills or liens. After that, the representative can distribute the remaining funds from the settlement to the decedent’s family members.
Types of Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death case is a type of civil lawsuit. Therefore, it does not seek to punish criminals with jail sentences. Instead, plaintiffs seek compensatory damages to make up for the financial and emotional losses they sustained due to the death of their loved one.
The type of compensation you may be able to collect in a wrongful death case include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical costs leading up to the death
- Loss of companionship or guidance
- Pain and suffering leading to the death
- Mental anguish
- Loss of future income or benefits
It can be complicated to determine the total amount of damages you deserve in a wrongful death suit. But that is where a skilled and experienced wrongful death lawyer can help. A legal professional will assess your claim, demand justice from the at-fault party or insurance company, and make sure your family receives fair compensation for the loss of life.
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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing Wrongful Death?
Every state has its own wrongful death statute of limitations. In most regions, the statute of limitations starts at the date of the death. If you do not file within your state’s statute of limitations, you can lose your right to bring the suit to court and therefore not recover compensation.
However, some states allow for exceptions to wrongful death deadlines. The exceptions most commonly extend to deaths involving minors, medical malpractice cases, homicides, and cases involving a government entity.
To ensure you file your wrongful death lawsuit on time, take legal action right away. A wrongful death lawyer in your area can assess your claim and make sure that everything gets filed within the necessary statute of limitations.
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Seek Legal Representation for Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you lost a loved one and want to file a wrongful death suit on their behalf, partner with a qualified legal professional. The wrongful death lawyers at Dansker & Aspromonte Associates LLP have been fighting for the rights of wrongful death victims for decades.
We have recovered millions for families. Even if you are not sure whether you have the right to bring a claim after the accidental death of a loved one, call us to discuss your rights. Our consultation is free, and if we agree to accept your case, you will not be required to pay us any money up front.
We accept all cases on a contingency, which means that we only recover a legal fee when you receive financial compensation. Contact us now to understand your rights. Our lawyers are ready to help.
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