If you lost someone because of someone’s negligence, you may wonder if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. As our personal injury lawyer can tell you, getting justice is not just about getting a substantial settlement. It also sends the message that a senseless death should not go unpunished. We may be able to help you hold the at-fault party accountable.
State Laws Regarding Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Laws vary slightly from state to state when it comes to pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. In particular, the determination of who qualifies to file the suit is somewhat different. A personal injury lawyer can examine your case and provide information as to whether or not you may be able to file the lawsuit.
Those Who Qualify to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
As a general rule, the only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is the person or persons who were beneficiaries of the deceased. Most states have established who they consider the default or statutory beneficiary. Usually this is the widow or widower, or the children of the deceased. In addition, depending on how a judge rules (which can be greatly influenced by whether or not there is a surviving spouse or child) the following people may qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Members of the immediate family such as the surviving spouse, children, legally adopted children, financially dependent parents.
- Financially dependent grandparents or siblings or other distant family members.
- The parents of a deceased fetus.
- Life partner or domestic partner.
- Persons who were financially dependent on the deceased.
The Decedent’s Estate
In some states, individuals cannot file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the decedent regardless of their past relationship to the individual. Additionally, the decedent’s estate can only file the lawsuit. In this scenario, the person recognized as the representative of the estate will have to file the lawsuit. That person would be named as the estate executor in the deceased’s will. In the event there is no legally recognized will, they are named by the probate court. The representative files the lawsuit under their own name, though any financial award that is recovered will likely be placed into a special trust. The funds are subsequently disbursed to the beneficiaries named or by the probate court.
Meet With a Wrongful Death Lawyer at No Charge
If you are suffering the senseless loss of someone and are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, make an appointment with an attorney today. Our firm offers free consultations and can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your case. Click here to contact our personal injury attorney today.