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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Funeral, sad and woman with flower on coffin after loss of a loved one.

The loss of a loved one is an emotionally devastating experience, and when the death is caused by someone else's negligence or intentional actions, the pain can be even more profound. A wrongful death lawsuit allows certain individuals to seek justice and compensation for their loss. 

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action brought against a person or entity whose negligent, reckless, or intentional actions caused the death of another person.

The purpose of this lawsuit is to provide financial compensation to the survivors for the loss of their loved one, covering various damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional suffering.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit varies by state, but generally, the following parties are allowed to bring such a claim:

  1. Immediate Family Members

    • Spouse: The deceased person's spouse is typically the first in line to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes legally married partners and, in some cases, common-law spouses.
    • Children: Biological and legally adopted children of the deceased can also file a wrongful death claim. This includes both minor and adult children who have suffered a loss due to the death of their parents.
    • Parents: If the deceased person was unmarried and had no children, their parents might be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
  2. Personal Representatives of the Estate

    • A personal representative, also known as an executor or administrator, is appointed to manage the deceased person's estate. This representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate and its beneficiaries.
  3. Other Relatives

    • In some states, extended family members such as siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit if they are financially dependent on the deceased or can demonstrate a significant loss.
  4. Financial Dependents and Putative Spouses

    • Individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased, such as domestic partners or putative spouses (those who believed in good faith that they were legally married), may have the right to file a wrongful death claim in certain jurisdictions.
  5. Parents of a Deceased Fetus

    • In some states, the parents of a deceased fetus can file a wrongful death lawsuit if the death was caused by negligence or wrongful acts. The laws regarding this type of claim vary widely, so consulting with a legal professional in your state is essential.

Factors to Consider

  1. State Laws and Regulations

    • Each state has its own laws governing wrongful death lawsuits, including who can file and the statute of limitations (the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed). Understanding the specific laws in your state and seeking legal advice to ensure compliance is crucial.
  2. Proving Negligence or Wrongful Conduct

    • To succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant's negligent, reckless, or intentional actions directly caused the death. This requires gathering evidence, such as medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony.
  3. Types of Damages

    • Wrongful death lawsuits seek to compensate survivors for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost income, while non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.
  4. Legal Representation

    • Navigating a wrongful death lawsuit can be complex and emotionally challenging. It is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney who can provide guidance, handle legal proceedings, and advocate for fair compensation.

Waco Wrongful Death Lawyer

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a way for surviving family members and dependents to seek justice and financial compensation for the loss of their loved one.

If you believe you have a wrongful death case, call our knowledgeable attorneys at Law Offices Of Vic Feazell, P.C. at (254) 938-6885 today.