Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences someone can go through. However, losing a loved one due to another person’s careless, negligent, or intentional actions or party is far more complicated.
Although the specifics can vary, every state in the U.S. allows certain parties to file what is known as a wrongful death claim. Such a claim can provide financial compensation for losses arising from a family member or loved one’s death.
Do You Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
When an individual dies due to someone else’s legal fault, a potential wrongful death claim exists. Wrongful death claims can arise from many different circumstances, both intentional or unintentional, including the following:
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Product liability
- Dog bites or attacks
- Premise liability
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Specific laws vary from one state to the next. However, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative of the survivors (or “real parties in interest”) who suffer damages from the death. The representative is typically the executor of the deceased’s estate. The real parties of interest can be different between states. Some of them might include:
- Immediate family members: Immediate family members such as spouses, biological and legally adopted children, and parents of unmarried children can recover through wrongful death claims.
- Partners, dependents, and putative spouses: Some states give a right of recovery to anyone financially dependent on the deceased, such as life partners, and financial dependents.
- Distant family members: Still, other states permit more distant family members, including siblings and grandparents, to file wrongful death claims. For instance, a grandparent who is raising a child might be able to file a claim.
- Anyone who suffers financially due to the death: Certain states provide for anyone who suffers financially from a death to bring a wrongful death legal action for lost care or support, even if they aren’t related by blood or marriage to the deceased.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Damages in a wrongful death claim can generally be in one of two categories; those experienced by the decedent or their estate before or because of their death and those experienced by the decedent’s next of kin.
For instance, depending on what caused their death, the deceased’s damages might include their:
- Medical expenses
- Mental and physical pain and suffering
- Lost wages and income
- Funeral and burial expenses
The second category of damages is meant to compensate the family survivors for their financial and other losses. Depending on state laws, these damages might include:
- Compensation for the money the deceased would have earned if it weren’t for their untimely death beginning from the date they were incapacitated or died through what would have been their anticipated retirement
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium
Should You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Typically, your wrongful death attorney will work to settle your claim without having to file a lawsuit. However, suppose a mutually agreeable settlement can’t be reached. In that case, you have the option to pursue a lawsuit against the party or parties who are liable for your loved one’s death. Your attorney can take charge of this process and help you every step of the way.
Contact a Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you have recently lost a family member or a loved one under circumstances that might involve someone else’s negligent, careless, or intentional actions, a wrongful death attorney can help you seek justice on their behalf. They can tell you if you have a valid wrongful death claim and help you file a lawsuit if one becomes necessary.
Since 1968, the award-winning personal injury attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. have recovered millions in settlements and court awards for their clients. They successfully represent injured victims and their families in a variety of cases, such as Houston car and truck accidents, maritime injuries, wrongful death, Houston motorcycle accidents, and others.