Losing a loved one is a difficult and painful experience. Sometimes, the deceased person’s family may seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

But who has the legal right to file such a suit?

This article will provide insight into wrongful death laws, including which individuals can bring forth these kinds of suits and what must be proven for them to succeed. Understanding these key elements of wrongful death law can help grieving families make informed decisions during their time of loss.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action filed by the surviving family members or loved ones of a person who died due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act.

It seeks to hold the responsible party accountable for the death and to recover damages for the losses and expenses incurred by the survivors. 

Wrongful death lawsuits can arise from various situations, including car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and defective products. The specific laws and procedures governing wrongful death lawsuits vary by jurisdiction.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuits allow the family and dependents of the deceased person to seek compensation for their losses from those responsible. 

So, who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

The answer to this question may vary depending on the state where the deceased person lived.

But, generally speaking, the following surviving family members may be eligible:

  • Spouses,
  • Children,
  • Parents,
  • Siblings,
  • Grandparents, and
  • Other relatives, in some cases

The right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit may also depend on the presence of a will. If an executor or personal representative is appointed by the court to administer the estate, they usually have the sole right to bring the lawsuit in most states.

The specific details vary depending on which state you live in and any applicable laws pertaining to wrongful death suits. In addition, it’s important to note that there are time limits associated with filing these types of claims, so if you think you may qualify, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer sooner rather than later.

Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Statutes of limitations impose a deadline on when a lawsuit can be filed, and they vary state to state.

Here’s an overview of four important considerations:

  1. Each state has its statute governing how long potential plaintiffs have to file their wrongful death claim (typically, beginning from the date of death or discovery of the cause of death)
  2. There might be additional leeway concerning filing deadlines if fraud or intentional concealment was involved
  3. If you miss your deadline for filing, then you will no longer have any legal recourse against potential defendants
  4. Different states also have different rules about who can bring forth a suit and whether minors must be represented by guardians ad litem – which underscores why seeking legal advice early is wise.

Given these nuances around statutes of limitation, taking prompt action is key so as not to foreclose the opportunity to seek justice through litigation.

Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases may entitle the surviving family members to the following damages:

  • Economic damages: compensate for the financial losses the surviving family members have incurred, such as lost income, medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and household services that the deceased person would have provided.
  • Non-economic damages: compensate for the intangible losses suffered by the surviving family members, such as loss of companionship, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages: a court may award punitive damages to punish the responsible party for their egregious conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

It’s important to remember that the damages available in a wrongful death case depend on the case’s specific facts and can vary by jurisdiction. A qualified attorney can help the surviving family members understand their legal rights and the damages available.

Common Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

Preparing a successful wrongful death claim requires gathering evidence and building a strong case that proves the responsible party’s negligence or intentional act caused the death. To do so, several key elements must be present in a wrongful death claim.

Evidence of Wrongful Death

In a wrongful death case, there needs to be evidence that the death was caused by another party’s negligence or intentional act. Evidence can include witness testimony, expert opinions, medical records, and physical evidence. Without evidence, it can be difficult to prove that a wrongful death occurred and hold the responsible party accountable.

Losses Incurred by Family Members

These losses can include loss of companionship, funeral, and burial expenses, lost wages if the deceased was employed, and medical bills incurred before passing away. The family members filing the suit must prove these losses were caused by another party’s wrongful action or inaction.

Established Relationship Between Deceased and Survivors

Generally, only certain family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes spouses, parents, and children (under certain conditions). Additionally, they must have had a relationship with the deceased person before passing away to qualify for legal standing in this case.

These three factors form the basis of any successful wrongful death claim; without them, it is unlikely that a court would grant financial compensation for damages suffered due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Understanding how each element works together is key when seeking justice through this means—and monetary compensation for your loved one’s suffering.

Working With an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

When a loved one dies due to the negligence of another party, managing the necessary legal proceedings can be overwhelming for families. Hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial to ensure justice and financial compensation. 

Here are some ways an attorney can help:

  • Help you understand your rights: the attorney will help you understand your legal rights and options for pursuing a wrongful death claim.
  • Investigate the circumstances: the lawyer will investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and gather evidence to support your case.
  • Provide support: an experienced wrongful death attorney will provide emotional support throughout your lawsuit.
  • Work with professionals: the attorney will work with witnesses, experts, investigators, and other professionals who may have knowledge related to the case.
  • Negotiate settlements: if needed, the attorney will negotiate a settlement on behalf of their client to ensure fair compensation.

It’s important to choose an attorney who understands how emotionally charged these cases can be – someone with empathy and experience in this area of law. With their help, you can rest assured that you receive fair treatment during such a difficult time.

To take the first step toward a successful claim, contact our team at Injury.io today.



Justice McDaniel is an experienced copywriter and blogger. She has over three years of experience providing outstanding legal content that ranks.