Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim? What You Need to Know

Losing a loved one is always a tragic experience. Nothing can truly make up for your loss, but there are times when justice must be served.

Filing a wrongful death claim is one way that bereaved families can seek justice. A successful wrongful death claim requires that the perpetrator pays for their actions and brings some financial relief to those affected.

The question is, how do you know if your loved one has suffered from a wrongful death? Who is allowed to file a wrongful death claim?

Read on to learn everything you need to know in your fight for justice.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?

The biggest question we need to address is the accusation of wrongful death itself. When does a death constitute a wrongful death?

Three of the most common causes of wrongful death are motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents. In a broad sense, wrongful deaths are those that could have been prevented by another party. 

That being said, the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim must be able to prove that neglect contributed to the cause of death. Let’s take a motor vehicle accident as an example. 

Let’s say that one driver hits another, leading to a fatality. The first driver would be considered responsible if they were neglecting to pay attention to the road, perhaps by texting, looking at a passenger, or in any way taking their eyes off the road. They can also be held accountable if they were driving while intoxicated, driving on the wrong side of the road, or otherwise driving in a reckless manner. 

In the event of medical malpractice, we often talk of fatalities that could have been reasonably prevented. For example, if a doctor misdiagnosed a patient because they failed to assess the patient’s full medical history, this would be considered an incident that could have been reasonably prevented.

Assessing wrongful death isn’t always a clear-cut process. Consult the Sweet Lawyers to find out if you have a case.

Who Is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Once you know that you have a case, it’s essential to understand who can file the wrongful death claim. This varies by state, but there are general guidelines that most states follow.

Often, the claim must be filed by an immediate family member. This could include a spouse, a child (biological or adopted), or a parent if the deceased was unmarried or a dependent. 

If none of these family members are alive or fit to file a claim, your state may move down the line to the next of kin. This could include an aunt or uncle, a cousin, or a grandparent. Some states also allow any financial dependents, whether related or not, to file a wrongful death claim.

Build Your Case for Justice

If you believe your loved one’s death was the result of someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. The next best course of action is to consult an attorney.

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