Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

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A wrongful death case is when the survivors or estate of a person who died as a result of an individual’s intentional actions or negligence bring a civil action against that individual. Guidelines for wrongful death lawsuits change from state to state, including who can file wrongful death claims.

The best personal injury lawyers can guide you through this process and help you understand when you’re qualified to file for wrongful death, but here’s a quick overview to prepare you for your first meeting with a personal injury attorney.

Courts review several different factors when deciding how to rule on a wrongful death case, and though the best personal injury lawyers can improve your chances, generally courts will award wrongful death damages to the following people:

  • Spouses: A surviving spouse can usually make a claim for the lost companionship that occurred after the death of the deceased spouse. They can also claim damages for emotional trauma resulting from the death of their spouse.
  • Children: Though adult children usually aren’t awarded damages, minor children can be awarded for damages resulting from the loss of their relationship with their parent, including the loss of benefits like comfort and support.
  • Parents: Parents of adult children may not have a strong claim, but parents of a minor child can typically recover damages for the emotional trauma resulting from the child’s death and their lost relationship with the child.

Of course, the best personal injury lawyer can argue for exceptions, and depending on the circumstances surrounding the wrongful death, the court may award punitive damages to other surviving family members. Punitive damages would result if the defendant exhibited especially egregious or reckless conduct that resulted in the death of the deceased. These damages are awarded to punish the defendant and prevent a repeat of the same behavior.

The best personal injury attorneys will fight to make sure you get the settlement you deserve, even in unusual circumstances.
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