A wrongful death lawsuit is filed when someone has wrongly caused the death of another person. This is often due to negligence, such as in a medical setting, or due to intentional actions caused by another person, even though that person didn't know those actions would lead to death. Since the deceased can't file the claim, a close relative must file the lawsuit. Here is more information about wrongful death lawsuits.
Who has the ability to file the lawsuit?
Every state in the U.S. will have different rules regarding who can actually file a wrongful death lawsuit. The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer in your area to ask about the specifics regarding who can file it. In general, this could be an immediate family member, a surviving spouse or child, or a domestic partner. In other cases, distant family members will be able to file the lawsuit if they don't have close relatives to handle it. If more than one family members attempts to file a lawsuit for the same purpose, courts typically combine them into one lawsuit.
Is it different if there is a will involved?
In some states, the person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit might change if the deceased had a will. If there is a will that states one person as their representative or executor of their estate, that person typically has the option for filing the lawsuit or choosing which of their close relatives can file it. If they do not want to bring up the lawsuit on their own, they can choose a close relative to do it.
What are the filing rules for this type of lawsuit?
With this type of lawsuit, there are statute of limitations involved. This means you only have a certain period of time to file the lawsuit, then it can no longer be filed. Again, this varies by state, so you need to find out more about your local filing rules. While it is often set at a year, your state might give you more or less time to file the lawsuit. If you did not find out all the details of their passing until after the statute of limitations, talk to a lawyer. There are some special considerations where you may be able to still sue, such as if their death was caused by an employee of the government.
If you believe your loved one is a victim of this type of event, then contact a personal injury attorney like Reddington & White. They can give you advice on gathering evidence and what the next steps are.