One of the most painful things to experience during a lifetime is to lose a loved one to an accidental death. The unexpected demise of a family member is unfortunate and shocking. Death always brings grief, but it is easier to cope with when caused by long known or natural causes. People of different ages die a wrongful death in fatal auto accidents every day. It is indeed heartrending when someone’s minor negligence or wrong decision becomes the means of ending a life. The death of a single person affects multiple lives in more than one way. The deceased could a parent, spouse, child, sibling, partner, guardian, and/or caretaker having various financial and emotional obligations.
Wrongful death counts as a case of personal injury, where the victim himself/herself cannot demand compensation. As replacement, immediate relatives or dependents are eligible to file a claim, so long as they fulfill the quota of the deceased’s ‘survivors’. Legal compensation for a wrongful death typically provides coverage for funeral expenses, lost wages/income of the deceased, and value of companionship.
Who may Sue for Wrongful Death?
The so-called ‘survivors’ are the ‘real parties in interest’ for a wrongful death case. The scope of the ‘real parties in interest’ varies from state to state. The certified and experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Boston, MA can explain the local laws governing your case and help you file a claim or lawsuit. All states approve immediate family members as survivors; this includes the spouse and children, or parents if the person was unmarried.
There are cases of wrongful death where the deceased’s parents are no longer alive, and they did not have a legal partner and/or children. Many states allow unmarried partners to claim compensation, especially if they are the parent of the deceased’s biological child or children. A putative spouse and minor adopted/fostered children previously dependent on the deceased’s income also possess the right to demand compensation. Legal guardianship automatically grants children a share in estate as well, even if they are not related by blood.
If the deceased has no partner or kids outside of marriage, then some states may consider distant relatives like siblings and grandparents. These relatives should bring a wrongful death lawsuit if they were raising the victim, or were financially dependent on them. Several states allow parents to file a claim for wrongful death if their baby dies during or shortly after delivery at the hospital due to medical malpractice.
Who may get Sued for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases are complicated, especially where there are multiple stakeholders involved. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to demonstrate ‘probable cause’ to incriminate the defendant or place the burden of liability on a single party. For example, if your loved one got into an accident with a slightly impaired rideshare driver who was driving an unstable car on a damaged road, you might blame one or more of the following:
- The driver who was fatigued or driving under the influence of a drug/alcohol
- The rideshare company for approving an unreliable driver and/or vehicle
- The car manufacturer for the defective design
- The municipal authorities for lack of road maintenance
As you can imagine, there could be a number of factors that contributed to the accident. It is also possible that the deceased was partially at fault; for example, they might be distracted right before the accident happened. Nonetheless, your loss is undeniable and an experienced personal injury attorney can get you the compensation you deserve.