Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

| Dec 3, 2020 | Wrongful Death

Most people assume that if their loved one dies in Massachusetts, they have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, this isn’t always the case. Many states have laws dictating who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and it’s not always the family members. Whether you can file claim depends on your relation to the victim and which state you currently live in.

Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim?

Every state has different laws regarding wrongful death claims. In some states, family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes, this only includes immediate family members like children, spouses, parents and siblings. However, other states allow any beneficiary to file a lawsuit, even if they’re not close relatives.

Some states also have laws dictating when you can file a lawsuit. In some states, certain family members like spouses and children have the first opportunity to file a lawsuit. If they choose not to file, other family members can file a suit. Some states even require family members to wait a year or two before they’re allowed to file.

Other states don’t allow family members to file at all. In these states, only the individual’s personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is typically the person who was named in their will as the executor of their estate. Since this person is responsible for managing the estate and distributing assets, they have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on the family’s behalf. If the lawsuit is successful, the estate receives any compensation that the individual would have received, so their family members can receive the compensation owed to them.

How may an attorney help you file a wrongful death claim?

Since every state has its own set of rules, an attorney may educate you on the laws in your state and how to file a wrongful death claim. If you’re eligible to file a claim, an attorney might help you prove that you’ve suffered emotional pain, lost wages and other damages as a result of your loved one’s death. This may help you and your family receive closure.