Who Has The Right To Sue For Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death lawsuit is one that can be filed if you believe that a family member has died as a result of negligence or another wrongful action. This will be filed against the person or organization that you believe has caused the death. 

If your claim is awarded to you, it is usually meant to compensate for the loss in financial ways as well as other ways. Each state has its own enacted laws that help to cover the family of the deceased person.

You will often be given a representative of the decedent to sue for civil damages. These can include grief, mental suffering, and sorrow. 

Who has the right to sue for wrongful death

The Lord Campbell System was enacted in 1846 by the British parliament. Most USA states have now enacted wrongful death statutes patterned after the Lord Campbell System. 

Under this system, a wrongful death claim can only be filed by a designated beneficiary. This means that only certain people specified by the statute can sue for wrongful death.

Whether or not someone can sue for wrongful death will depend on their relationship to the deceased. 

The benefit to sue for a wrongful death will also depend on your class. If there are members of the family in first class, the right to sue will only be given to those in first class.

If there are no living family members in first class, the right to sue will be given to those in the next class down. 

Some other states will abide by the Loss-To-Estate System, which means that a wrongful death claim can only be brought by the decedent’s estate to compensate for the losses created by the death. 

A representative of the estate will commonly sue for wrongful death who has been appointed by the probate court to administer the decedent’s assets. 

Can a child sue for wrongful death?

Yes, children who are now adults and above the age of 25 can sue for the wrongful death of their parents.

The age that a child becomes classified as an ‘adult child’ differs from state to state, so make sure that you check what your state laws are saying beforehand. 

Many states will allow adult children to sue for wrongful death, but what they can be compensated on is rather limited. For example, Florida only allows adult children to sue for mental suffering and damages if there is no surviving spouse of the decedent. 

So, if one parent were to die from what you believe to be wrongful death but your other parent is still alive, the state would assume that you can still lean on the surviving parent for what you’re missing from the deceased parent. 

On the other hand, minor children are always entitled to pain and suffering damages if they lose either of their parents. However, the additional pain that comes along with these lawsuits can cause even more suffering to the minor child in question. 

Attorneys will use pictures of the child with the deceased parent, as well as videos of happier times, to pull on the heartstrings of the court. This can be traumatic on the child, leaving them with even more pain and mental suffering than the awarded valuations could cover. 

Minor children are always allowed to sue for wrongful deaths, no matter if they still have one parent who is still alive.

Due to this, the alive parent will often use the minor child to sue a person for wrongful death to give them a better case so that they’re more likely to win. 

Children do have the right to sue for wrongful deaths, although adult children won’t be able to if they have one parent still alive. 

Can a family member sue for wrongful death?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by a member of the immediate family, no matter which state you live in. The most common family member that will do this will be the deceased person’s spouse if they’re still living. 

If there is no surviving spouse, then an adult child might be able to bring forth the wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent was a minor child, the parents will be allowed to sue for wrongful death compensation. 

Some states do allow partners of the deceased person to sue for wrongful death, although not all states allow this. You’ll need to check the laws in your own state to know whether you’re entitled to do this or not. 

If the decedent was unmarried without any children, and they were legally an adult, many states will allow a more distant family member to file the case against the wrongful death.

These family members can be siblings, aunts or uncles, or grandparents. Again, you would need to check with your state laws to see if you could do this. 

Can a girlfriend sue for wrongful death?

Yes, a domestic partner can file a claim for wrongful death on behalf of their deceased partner. However, this might be slightly more difficult if you don’t have proof that you were the partner of the decedent. 

Some states have laws in place that allow you to sue for the wrongful death of a domestic partner only if the decedent has no other living relatives in a higher class than you.

This means that relatives in the first-class - parents, children, or spouses - will be able to file the wrongful death lawsuit. 

If your state abides by these rules and there are living relatives of your partner, you might not be able to sue for wrongful death as the right will be given to them.

However, if your partner has none of these living relatives, you might be able to sue for wrongful death if there are no other relatives in a higher class to you. 

On the other hand, some states such as California, allow the partner of a deceased person to be thought of as first class. This means that you will be able to sue for wrongful death even if your partner has living first-class relatives. 

Other states allow anyone to bring a wrongful death claim as long as they can show that they had financial dependence on the deceased person. If you have proof of this, your case will only be stronger and you’ll be more likely to win in court. 

Can siblings sue for wrongful death?

Yes, siblings can sue for wrongful death if their brother or sister died as a result of someone else’s negligence.

Again, the laws regarding who can file wrongful death claims do vary from state to state, meaning that you will have to read up on your state laws to ensure that this is true for you. 

Some states do not allow siblings to sue for wrongful death under certain circumstances. Siblings who have received financial or emotional support from the deceased person are more likely to be able to sue and win for the wrongful death of a sibling. 

Siblings are not often considered to be immediate family and they’ll often be regarded as second or even third-class family members in regards to the decedent.

This means that in some states the first-class family members, such as spouses, parents, and children, will be the only people allowed to claim wrongful death. 

If there are no living first-class family members for the decedent; however, the sibling might be able to sue for wrongful death as long as there are no other living relatives in a higher class to them. 

It can be tricky to make a case for wrongful deaths when it comes to siblings. A wrongful death claim will often be to compensate the family member in terms of mental suffering and emotional support. 

If a sibling still has other siblings, or parents, or a partner to use as emotional support, a court might use this against them to prevent the sibling from being able to win their case. 

The fact that the court can use this against the sibling is not fair. However, a lawyer might try to play this angle just like they would with an adult child who has lost one of their parents but still has one surviving parent.

Be aware of this before entering the court so that you aren’t ambushed with it and suffer even more emotional stress than before. 

Can you sue a murderer’s family?

Yes, you can sue a murderer’s family with a wrongful death case if you want to claim compensation from them. This is an important feat for the victim’s family as it gives them some peace of mind that the decedent’s death was not for nothing. 

You don’t necessarily have to have murder charges against the murderer to file for wrongful death. In fact, these cases are completely separate.

Even if the murderer was not found guilty of murder, you could still win your wrongful death lawsuit. 

With that being said, a murder charge against the person you’re suing can be used in the wrongful death case if they have been found guilty. A guilty charge will almost certainly mean that you will win your wrongful death lawsuit. 

It might be possible to sue the murderer’s family if the murderer in question is also deceased. However, not every court will allow this as the blame for the murder doesn’t transfer to the family once the murderer dies. 

Just like they wouldn’t be taken to jail if the murderer was found guilty but passed away, it is not always the murderer’s family’s fault that their relative did what they did.

In some rare circumstances, you can argue that the family influenced the murderer’s decisions, although the case will be much harder to make and you might not win at the end of it.