July 27, 2021
When an individual, group or entity (business) might be legally responsible for causing loss of life, they could face a civil claim for wrongful death. In wrongful death lawsuits, family members or other loved ones of the deceased person can seek damages for lost income, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The laws for wrongful death vary from state to state so it’s best to consult with a local civil attorney to find out how to proceed with a claim in your area. If you want to file a wrongful death claim, but you are not sure which family member should be the plaintiff, what should you do?
Name a Personal Representative
Some states need a “personal representative” to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a victim’s family and loved ones, as a wrongful death lawyer like one from David & Philpot P.L. can tell you. Usually, the personal representative is a person or company named as the executor of the decedent’s estate. So when they file the lawsuit, they are seeking damages for the victim and their survivors. The court can consider what compensation the victim could have received such as pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of income. After the decedent’s damages, the lawsuit addresses “loss of companionship” and loss of future income for family members and other loved ones.
Determine “Real Parties in Interest”
Due to the legal disparities among all 50 states, you should consult with a wrongful death lawyer to confirm the legal requirements for wrongful death lawsuits in your area. Generally, the individuals seeking damages as the decedent’s survivors are “real parties in interest”. Some states consider only “lineal descendants” the only family members entitled to wrongful death compensation. Lineal descendants are spouses, parents, children and grandchildren. In cases where the decedent doesn’t have any surviving close family, some states will then allow siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews to file claims.
There are states that allow “putative spouses” such as life partners, or anyone who had a long-term domestic relationship with the decedent as possible plaintiffs. Putative spouses who were financially dependent on their dead spouses are entitled to compensation.
In Maryland, any person who would have inherited money or property from the decedent is entitled to wrongful death compensation. There is no need for a blood relation or marriage to name a plaintiff.
Depending on where you live and your relationship with the victim, wrongful death laws in your state might be complex. Consult a local civil attorney with wrongful death representation experience so you can proceed in your fight for compensation.