Wrongful Death Claims: Who Can File?

Legal Tips and Resources

All civil litigation can be complicated for people to navigate. When it comes to wrongful death, it is difficult enough for surviving members of the family to cope with the loss, let alone navigate the court system. This is why having an attorney when it comes to wrongful death is important. If you aren’t sure if you can file a wrongful death claim, here is what you need to know about who can file a claim.

Family Members

In most states, certain beneficiaries can only sue. The state’s statute will explain which family members are allowed to bring the suit. In the most common cases, the children, widow or parent may be able to file a suit for wrongful death.

Now, what happens is that first, those who are immediate family have the right to sue first. If there are no children, parents or spouses alive, then the next class of beneficiaries may file a suit. For instance, if an adult person is unmarried, then his or her parents may file for the suit. If there are no parents, children or spouses, then grandparents or siblings may file the suit instead.

If a couple is unmarried, then domestic or life partners may also file a wrongful death claim in some cases. Other beneficiaries include anyone who would suffer financially as a result of the person’s death. This includes anyone who is financially dependent on the decedent. If the person has no beneficiaries, then no wrongful death suit can be claimed. The complexity is why lawyers are helpful with wrongful death.

Personal Representatives

Some states allow personal representatives to bring wrongful death claims. These are representatives of the decedent’s estate and compensates for losses that occurred due to the death. The personal representative is appointed by the court to administer assets. While the suit might be in his or her name, the representative may not see that money. If the personal representative wins the suit and collects damages from the other party, then that money may be put into a trust for beneficiaries.

Every state has its own laws when it comes to wrongful death and those who are allowed to file. In addition, there are special circumstances that may vary from the above information. For instance, while parents normally file wrongful death for minor children, it is possible to file a suit for adult children. For more information and to find out if you can file a claim, call a wrongful death lawyer today.