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Wrongful Death

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

When someone dies due to the negligent or willful act of another person, the deceased’s person’s family or estate has a right to pursue damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. If the state allows a family member to file a wrongful death claim, the family member must typically be a spouse or a family member within a certain degree of consanguinity of the deceased such as a child, parent, or sibling. Other states require that the decedent’s estate file the wrongful death claim. This means that the decedent’s personal representative or executor would file the claim and the proceeds would go to the decedent’s estate.

What types of damages are available through a wrongful death lawsuit?

Typically, recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim include medical expenses related to the injury that ultimately lead to the victim's death and the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses. The family may also recover damages for the loss of financial support that the victim would have contributed to the family during his or her lifetime. In some cases the plaintiffs may recover damages for benefits lost such as medical insurance and pension benefits as well as loss of companionship.

Is there a statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim?

Each state has a time limit, referred to as a statute of limitations, for when a wrongful death action must be filed. Depending on the state, the limitations period is 1-6 years from the date of death. If the wrongful death claim is not filed within the limitations period, the right to sue is lost.

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