If someone you know and love had their life taken from them because of the negligence of a company or person, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death suit. Only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death suit, however.
Determining Who Has Standing
A person can only file a lawsuit if they have "standing." Standing is a legal term that means the person filing the lawsuit has to be harmed by whatever they are suing over.
Understanding Harm In A Legal Sense
In a legal sense, harm comes with money attached to the world. In the case of a wrongful death suit, harm can be related to whoever had to foot funeral expenses, medical bills, and other costs related to the deceased.
The court system also recognizes other types of harm. They recognize and assign a monetary value to things such as lost financial support and prospect of inheritance. They also award harm based on the loss value of services one provided, such as work around the house or childcare.
Who Has Standing Qualifies As Experiencing Harm
Immediate family members are generally considered individuals who have legal standing and who have experienced harm due to the passing of the deceased. Immediate family members include the deceased spouse as well as their children. In some states, immediate family members also include the parents of the deceased as well.
Other states have a more practical view on wrongful death suits and understand that those who have legal standing and were harmed by the passing of the deceased may extend beyond traditional family members. In those states, non-traditional families as well as extended family members may file a wrongful death suit as well.
The person who has been designated by the court or by the deceased's will to be the executor of their estate may also file a wrongful death suit. The executor of one's estate is in charge of all legal decisions related to the deceased. An executor of an estate is generally a family member of the deceased.
Some states limit who can file a wrongful death suit to the immediate family of the deceased. Some states have broader definitions of who can file a wrongful death suit, but still limit who may file a suit to some degree. The best way to know who may file a wrongful death suit in your state is to consult with an attorney, such as Greg S. Memovich.