Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit?
When determining who can recover compensation in a wrongful death suit, courts will typically follow the line of succession. This, however, can become quite complicated if several family members try to file a suit.
A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim brought on by the surviving family members on behalf of a deceased loved one. Of course, wrongful death benefits will never make up for the loss of a loved one, but they will help offset any financial obligations that are left to the remaining family members. However, the right to file a wrongful death suit can vary by state.
Who Has The Right To File A Wrongful Death Suit?
Different people can bring wrongful death suits, depending on location. The answer to who has the right to file a suit usually depends on where the decedent lived. Each and every state has its own set of laws concerning wrongful death claims. Legal and procedural rules will vary by state, as well.
- Each state allows immediate family members to file a wrongful death suit.
- In most cases, a surviving spouse will file the lawsuit if the decedent was married.
- If the decedent was a child, a parent will typically bring the lawsuit.
- Select states will allow one member of a civil union or domestic partnership to bring the suit on their partner’s behalf.
- If the decedent is a single adult, most states will allow distant family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) to file the suit.
Sometimes there are disputes between family members regarding who will personally file the suit. Courts will typically allow only a single wrongful death lawsuit on the decedent’s behalf. If two or more suits are filed, the court will likely consolidate all of the claims into a single suit.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit In Arizona?
It is important to note that a lawyer should act on behalf of the survivors, also referred to as beneficiaries. This is done to ensure the case is both uncomplicated and efficient, especially if there are multiple family members involved in the claim. When determining who can recover compensation in a wrongful death claim, courts will typically follow the line of succession. This, however, can become quite complicated if several family members try to file a claim demanding a certain portion of the compensation.
Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure a smooth process for you and your family members. The following family members of the deceased party may file a wrongful death claim in the state of Arizona:
- Surviving Spouse.
- Parent Or Legal Guardian.
- Surviving Children.
- Personal Representative Of The Family Members.
- Personal Representative Of The Deceased Party’s Estate.
What If The Decedent Had A Will?
Figuring out who has the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit can also depend on whether or not the decedent had a will. When a person dies with a will, a court will typically appoint an executor to administer the estate. In most states, if the court appoints a personal representative or executor, that person has the sole right to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the decedent.
How Quickly Does A Wrongful Death Suit Have To Be Filed?
Each state has a statute of limitations which sets a time limit on the right to file a wrongful death suit. The time period length varies, but no state features a wrongful death statute of limitations shorter than one full year. The “clock” typically starts running from the decedent’s exact date of death. If you wait too long to file the suit or fail to comply with any pre-lawsuit notice requirements in rare cases where the government may be liable for the death, you can lose the right to a legal remedy for the wrongful death.
Elements Of A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
For a victim’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit, these elements must be applied:
- Proof of death.
- Evidence of the accused party’s negligence.
- Proof that surviving family members have suffered either a loss of income of other losses as a result of the victim’s death.
- Evidence of a doctor-patient relationship (in medical malpractice claims).
Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit will be filed by a victim’s spouse, parents or children. Some states do allow a victim’s grandparents or siblings to file a suit. Each state does have a wrongful death statute that dictates what parties are eligible to file a suit on behalf of a victim, as well as the requirements for a suit to be considered valid.
What Can Be Recovered In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If a loved one dies because of another party’s negligence, surviving family members are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit designed to recover compensation for the family’s harm and losses as a result of the death.
These are the types of damages one can retrieve when winning a wrongful death suit:
- Lost wages.
- Pain and suffering.
- Medical expenses.
- Property damage.
- Reimbursement for burial and funeral expenses.
These lawsuits are typically accompanied by a demand letter. This letter is a legal document that states what damages the person is seeking, the amount of compensation they’d wish to recover, while also providing supporting evidence proving why they are eligible to recover said damages.
A compelling demand letter can undoubtedly increase your chances of winning the lawsuit, especially when accompanied by representation of an experienced lawyer.
Source: “Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?” NOLO nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/who-can-file-wrongful-death-lawsuit.html
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