An Overview of Wrongful Death Claims

Losing a loved one as a result of somebody else’s negligence can be a devastating experience. And while it cannot replace the life that was lost, filing a wrongful death claim can at least help the surviving family members to recover and get back on their feet again. The Legal Dictionary defines wrongful death as the taking of the life of an individual due to the willful or negligent act of another person or persons.

According to the website of Zavodnick Zavodnick & Lasky, wrongful death may arise from medical malpractice, car and motorcycle accidents, criminal behavior, construction accidents, and workplace injuries. A wrongful death claim can be filed independently from criminal charges. According to the Legal Dictionary, “neither proceeding affects nor controls the other.” This is regardless of whether the act was intentional or not.

A wrongful death claim is filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors affected by the death of the deceased. The representative is usually the executor of the decedent’s estate. They are called “real parties in interest” and may vary from one state to another. The representative of the decedent may include the following:

Immediate family members. All states recognize immediate family members such as a spouse, children, and parents of unmarried children as parties that may file a wrongful death claim.

Life partners, financial dependents, and putative spouses. In some states, the domestic or life partner, persons who are financially dependent on the deceased and putative spouses can also recover damages in a wrongful death claim.

Distant family members. Distant family members are allowed by the court to sue for wrongful death. A grandparent who is raising a child can also file a wrongful death case.

Persons who experience financial suffering. If a person is financially dependent on the deceased, they can file a wrongful death claim for lost care or support.

Parents of a dead fetus. In some states, a deceased fetus serves as the basis for a wrongful death suit. In other states, parents cannot file a wrongful death claim for the purpose of recovering financial and emotional losses.

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