According to important statistics released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 173,040 unintentional deaths in America annually. This equates to 52.7 deaths per 100,000 people. In many cases, the families of people who are killed in accidents are entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim.
If you are like most people, you are not yet sure what a wrongful death is and whether you can file a claim for one. Fortunately, a Riverside wrongful death attorney would be able to shed some light on this topic and determine whether you have the right to seek compensation. Losing a loved one is never easy but working with a lawyer to hold the responsible party accountable can help you feel that justice has been done.
What Exactly is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Before exploring the intricacies of the law in regard to who can file and what damages they can seek, it’s important to understand what wrongful death claim is generally. Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a claim that can be brought against a party that has caused the death of someone else through their negligent actions or because of intentional harmful action. Ultimately, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that is wholly separate from any criminal charges that might be in place.
Additionally, a wrongful death claim can be initiated due to several different circumstances. These circumstances can range from medical malpractice to car accidents. Interestingly, wrongful death claims are a recent development in U.S. law, as these claims were not previously allowed under English common law. Over the last century, however, legislatures have passed laws allowing surviving family members to pursue damages after losing a loved one.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the U.S., the parties that can file a claim will largely depend on the state where you are filing the wrongful death lawsuit. Some states are more inclusive than others when determining who may file a wrongful death on behalf of the lost loved one. The representative filing a wrongful death claim is usually the executor of the deceased’s estate. Below are the primary people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Financial dependents and life partners: Only in some states in the U.S. can financial dependents and life partners initiate a wrongful death claim. Essentially domestic or life partners and those who relied on the deceased for financial stability and well-being can file a lawsuit.
- Immediate family members of the deceased: In all states in the U.S., immediate family can bring a wrongful death case. Immediate family includes spouses, adopted children, biological children, and parents of unmarried children.
- Distant family members of the deceased: A select few states in the U.S. will allow distant family members of the deceased loved one to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These family members include sisters, brothers, and even grandparents.
- Parents of a deceased unborn child: In a few American states, an unborn child’s death can be the sole basis for which a wrongful death claim is filed. The other U.S. states only allow the parents to initiate a wrongful death claim if the child was born alive and then shortly after died.
The death of someone you love is never an easy experience, especially if it is due to someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. Fortunately, with the assistance of an experienced wrongful death lawyer, you can seek justice on behalf of your lost loved one. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit with a lawyer’s help is an efficient process and the first step towards gaining compensation. Get in contact with a successful wrongful death attorney today to discuss your case.