If you are now dealing with the shock and heartache from losing a beloved family member due to the carelessness and negligence of another party, you need to realize you have many viable legal options available to you. One of the most important is the filing of a wrongful death claim, which could result in you and your family gaining substantial compensation for the loss of our loved one. Yet before pursuing this course of legal action, it is vital you understand exactly who has the right to file such a lawsuit.
Immediate Family Members
In most instances where wrongful death claims are filed, they are done so by the immediate family members of the deceased. Thus, if you are the spouse, child, adopted child, or parent of an individual who was unmarried at the time of their death, you would be considered as a designated beneficiary, giving you the right to file a claim.
Distant Family Members
In the event there are no immediate family members who are still living at the time of the person’s death, the right to file a wrongful death claim could then fall to distant family members. This group includes siblings of the deceased individual, as well as the person’s grandparents. Since circumstances such as these can be quite complex, always consult with a wrongful death attorney with substantial experience in such cases.
Domestic and Life Partners
In some states, the court will allow a wrongful death claim to be filed by those who were domestic or life partners of the deceased. However, if you are in such a position, you will need to show the court ample evidence you had a long-standing relationship with the deceased. For example, you will have a much greater chance of winning your case if you prove you were living with the deceased for several years, rather than for only a few months.
Finally, some states only allow wrongful death claims to be brought by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate, which is a person appointed by the probate court to administer the estate and its assets. While the claim is brought in the name of the estate’s representative, any compensation awarded by the court goes only to those who are designated beneficiaries.
Since it will be crucial to gain compensation for your loved one’s unnecessary death as well as to hold those who were responsible accountable for their negligence, always consult with an attorney immediately to discuss your situation in more detail.