Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

empty hospital bed

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is undoubtedly one of the most challenging experiences one can face. When that loss is the result of someone else's negligence or wrongful actions, the grief can be compounded by a sense of injustice. In such cases, the surviving family members may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This legal avenue allows them to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered due to the untimely death of their loved one. In this blog post, we'll explore the criteria and considerations surrounding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

1. Immediate Family Members

Typically, immediate family members are the first in line to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This category includes:

  • Spouses: A surviving spouse is often the first eligible party to file a wrongful death claim. This is true whether the couple was legally married or in a recognized domestic partnership.

  • Children: Minor children and, in some cases, adult children may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The extent of their eligibility may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

2. Parents of Deceased Minors

If the deceased is a minor, their parents or legal guardians are usually entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is regardless of whether the parents were married, divorced, or separated at the time of the child's death.

3. Financial Dependents

In some jurisdictions, individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This can include stepchildren, putative spouses (those who believed in good faith that they were married to the deceased), or anyone who can demonstrate financial dependence on the deceased.

4. Distant Family Members

In certain cases, more distant family members may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, especially if there are no surviving immediate family members. This can include grandparents or siblings, depending on the specific laws of the jurisdiction.

5. Representatives of the Estate

In situations where there are no immediate family members or eligible individuals to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative of the deceased's estate may take legal action. The damages recovered in this case would typically be distributed among the heirs or beneficiaries as determined by the deceased's will or state laws of intestate succession.

6. Domestic or Life Partners

In some jurisdictions, domestic partners or life partners who can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This recognition acknowledges the changing landscape of familial relationships.

Factors to Consider When Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit:

  1. Time Limitations: It's crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This varies by jurisdiction and may start from the date of the deceased's death or the date when the cause of death was discovered.

  2. Criminal Actions: The outcome of any criminal actions related to the death, such as homicide charges, may impact the eligibility and success of a wrongful death lawsuit.

  3. Evidence and Documentation: Gathering evidence, such as medical records, witness statements, and financial documentation, is vital for building a strong case in a wrongful death lawsuit.

MDR LAW LLC Is Always Here for You

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is a complex matter that varies depending on jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case. While immediate family members are typically the primary parties eligible to file, it's essential to consider the nuances of each situation.

Consulting with an experienced lawyer is crucial for understanding your rights, navigating legal complexities, and seeking justice for the loss of a loved one. Fortunately, our skilled and compassionate wrongful death attorneys at MDR LAW LLC can guide you through the process, helping you make informed decisions during a difficult time.

Call MDR LAW LLC now at (312) 500-7944 or contact us online to request a free consultation today. 

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