A wrongful death lawsuit can result when someone dies due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another person or entity. These cases may be the result of anything from a car accident to medical malpractice, criminal behavior, or even product liability. Wrongful death lawsuits are meant to compensate family members for the death of a loved one and financial losses that result from the death. Not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit, however.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A claim of wrongful death must be filed by a representative on behalf of the deceased person’s survivors who suffer damage from the death. In most cases, the representative is the executor of the person’s estate. The people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit varies by state.
Most states use the wrongful death statute called the Lord Campbell System. Under this system, a claim of wrongful death can be brought by a designated beneficiary, or specific people listed by the statute by relationship. The right to sue for wrongful death will fall exclusively on this listed class, if there are any living members. If there are no living members of that class, the right passes to family members of the next class.
Some states use the Loss-to-Estate system, which means the person’s estate can file the lawsuit to compensate it for losses.
People who may file for wrongful death (depending on the state) includes:
- Immediate family members. This includes a spouse, biological children, adopted children, and the parents of unmarried children. Immediate family members can always recover under wrongful death actions, regardless of the state.
- More distant family members. This includes grandparents and siblings, such as a grandparent who must now raise a child.
- Parents of a deceased fetus. Some states consider the death of a fetus the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit. In some states, parents cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover emotional and financial losses after the death of a fetus unless the child was born alive.
- Domestic partners
- Financial dependents.
Who Can Be Sued?
It’s also important to understand who can be sued under a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death lawsuits may be brought against many people, including:
- The driver or an employer at fault in a fatal traffic accident
- The person who sold or gave alcohol to an impaired driver who killed someone
- The owner of the premises where alcohol was served that resulted in a death by alcohol poisoning or drunk driving
- The manufacturer or distributor of a dangerous product
- A doctor, nurse, technician, or anesthesiologist who committed medical malpractice
There are some people who cannot be sued for wrongful death. Sometimes this includes government agencies and their employees, specific family members, and manufacturers in certain cases of product liability that involves a medical device.
If you think that you have a wrongful death lawsuit, then you should talk to one of our Albuquerque wrongful death lawyers here at Will Ferguson & Associates. Contact Will Ferguson for more information about your possible case.