After your loved one dies due to negligent actions of another party, you and your family might be in a tough situation financially. You want to seek compensation to help cover funeral and burial costs, as well as other costs that might arise, but you may not be sure who should file the suit. While it varies by state, there are some basics you should know.
A Personal Representative
If your loved one had a will, most likely the court will assign a personal representative or executor of the estate. That would be the only individual allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. All of the money received from a won settlement would go straight into the estate, which would then be distributed as stated in the will.
This isn’t the case in every state. There are only four states that solely allow a personal representative to file a wrongful death claim, with a few others that have it as an option.
The Deceased’s Spouse
If the individual who passed away was married at the time of death, the spouse is typically allowed to file the wrongful death lawsuit. A spouse is generally the individual who is most impacted by a person’s death, so this makes sense. A surviving spouse may be able to file the lawsuit to collect damages for lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, loss of consortium, and a variety of other things.
The Deceased’s Children
Whether or not the deceased was married, there’s a chance his or her adult children can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the individual was not married, and his or her children are minors at the time of the death, the children could file the lawsuit as soon as one of them turns 18 years old. If the spouse chooses not to pursue a lawsuit, a child then has the right.
When the individual who dies is a minor, his or her parents have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This could also be the case for an adult who wrongfully dies, supposing he or she was not married and did not have any children.
Getting a Lawyer’s Assistance
If your loved one died and the family can’t determine who should file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party, it might help to get a lawyer’s assistance.