For you to file a wrongful death claim, you should be related to the person who passed away in some way. For instance, you can’t just file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a neighbor who passed away due to an auto accident. You don’t have a direct or clear relationship with that neighbor, explains a top wrongful death lawyer from Los Angeles.
If your spouse or parent dies in an accident, your relationship with them is clear, so you could file a claim on their behalf.
Relationships Really Matter
The particular nature and degree of relationship you have with the wrongful death victim differ from one state to another. In general, however, you may file a claim of wrongful death provided that you were:
- The victim’s spouse
- Their child (younger than 18 years old in some states)
- The victim’s parent (but only if you are younger than 18 years old when your parent passed)
- A legal dependent, a grandparent, or extended family member of the victim
This would, however, depend on the specific laws in your state and if you could persuade the court that you’re the most qualified individual to file a claim on behalf of the victim.
Likewise, some states allow the estate of the victim to file a claim for wrongful death to obtain compensation for losses sustained due to the death of the victim.
In cases like this, the personal representative of the victim’s estate could file the claim. All damages recovered would be put into a special trust that would be disbursed to the estate’s beneficiaries.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
If a family member unexpectedly passed away due to the negligent or reckless actions of another individual, you might have grounds for a claim of wrongful death.
Laws regarding wrongful death differ widely from one state to another, so it’s vital that you know your rights and the legal remedies available to you. Your best recourse is to discuss your case with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to help you navigate your case.