Wrongful death is a type of legal claim that can be brought when a person dies due to the negligence or intentional action of another person or company. There are many different types of wrongful death claims, such as vehicle accidents, work accidents, product defects, criminal acts, and medical malpractice.
Given that a deceased person obviously cannot file a lawsuit, a wrongful death claim is taken by another individual. Different people are able to file a lawsuit depending on the laws within different states. In this blog post, we will highlight who can file a wrongful death suit in the United States.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
The answer to this question, as we have noted, generally depends on the state where the deceased person lived. Every state has its own laws surrounding wrongful death claims, though every state allows a claim to be filed by immediate family members.
Generally speaking, if the deceased person was married, the surviving spouse would be responsible for bringing the lawsuit. Some states will also allow an adult child to bring a lawsuit if the deceased person was themselves an adult. If the deceased person was a child, the lawsuit is usually brought by a parent.
There are some states that will also allow one member of a domestic partnership or a civil union to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of their partner.
In the case where the deceased person was a single adult, the majority of states permit more distant family members to file the lawsuit. These can include siblings, grandparents, and uncles/aunts.
It is also worth highlighting that courts typically only allow one wrongful death claim to be filed on behalf of a deceased person. In cases where two or more claims are filed, these may be consolidated into a single lawsuit.
What Is the Deceased Person Had a Will?
Another factor that may determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is if the deceased person had a will. In most states, should a court appoint a personal representative or executor, then that person will have the sole right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person.
We recommend that you double-check the laws that are applicable to your state before you file a wrongful death lawsuit. Click here to learn more about the different types of claims in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Your State
The bottom line is that each state has its own rules on wrongful death claims. Speak to a local wrongful death attorney to learn more about the law in your state. A law firm will also help you to file correctly and increase your odds of winning your case.
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