Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful Death Lawyer

When a loved one dies in an negligent accident, you may want to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party. Most states have laws that identify who can bring a wrongful death claim to the courts. Generally, you must either be a beneficiary of the deceased or let the estate bring the case to the courts.

Beneficiaries Can Bring a Lawsuit

Under the Lord Campbell System, a wrongful death claim can only be made by the beneficiaries of the deceased. Typically, the first person who could bring a claim would be the widow or widower of the deceased. If the deceased doesn’t have a spouse, then the next group of people who could sue would be the children of the deceased. Following them would be the siblings of the deceased or the deceased’s parents, followed by other distant relatives or financial dependents.

Under this system, the benefit to sue applies to the closest living relatives of the deceased. Thus, if there is no spouse to sue, the right passes to the children. The parents of the deceased would have no benefit to sue if the deceased had children. If the deceased has children who decide not to sue, the right would not pass to the next beneficiary.

The Loss-to-Estate System

Some states use a system in which only the estate can bring a wrongful death suit. A representative of the deceased person’s estate, typically the executor, would file the lawsuit. Any recoverable settlement would be held in trust to be dispersed to the designated beneficiaries. If the deceased did not leave a will, the probate court would decide how to divide the estate among the beneficiaries.

How Much Is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth?

Every state has different laws that govern wrongful death lawsuits. Typically, under a wrongful death claim, you could receive death-related expenses, loss of economic benefits, loss of companionship and even attorney fees. In certain circumstances, pain and suffering of the survivors may be added to the claim. Depending on your case, you could also ask for punitive damages.

Do You Really Need at Attorney?

When a family dies due to the negligence of others, it is advised to talk to a wrongful death attorney about your rights under your state’s laws. With your attorney, you can decide if you have a case under the law and what steps you should take before settling with the insurance company.

Wrongful death claims can be complicated, a wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate the legal system to get the best results. Contact an experienced attorney today.

Resource: Charlottesville, VA Wrongful Death Lawyer, MartinWren, P.C.

Close Menu