Filing for wrongful death indicates that the death of a family member or loved one is believed to be the result of negligence of a third party. The claim is only valid if it proves that the death was a result of negligence and, if successful, a claim will allow surviving family to claim compensation for damages. As a wrongful death lawyer in Lafayette, IN from a law office like Hall-Justice Law Firm can explain, the laws surrounding wrongful death vary by state and by particular details of the case so it may not be easy to file a claim alone. It is always preferable to have the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney in these cases. Check out the short guide below to determine how the deceased’s estate may be affected.
Filing Your Claim for Wrongful Death
Laws dictating who has the right to file a claim of wrongful death varies by state, so check your eligibility against state regulations. Usually eligible people include parents, siblings, life partners, or spouses and grandparents. You do not have to be family, but to file a claim you must prove that you were financially burdened by the death or that you were financially dependent on the deceased.
It is important to gather all members who want to file a claim together into one claim because it is easier to pursue one case than many for the same charge of wrongful death. In a case such as this, the family (or plaintiffs) will sue for damages incurred by the death such as:
- Funeral expenses
- Emotional damages
- Loss of wages or other assets
- Medical bills
How the Decedent’s Estate is Affected
Whether or not the deceased has left a will, wrongful death settlement awards are distributed and divided among beneficiaries depending on the losses and damages experienced by each individual. This can create a stressful situation among family because there is no itemized list of assets and designated beneficiaries. This can lead to fighting, and if the family cannot agree on distribution, then the court will take over the decision. An experienced estate planning lawyer can coordinate distribution as well as serve as your representative throughout the entire process, ensuring a greater chance of success.
Grieving is difficult enough without adding a legal battle to the mix. Don’t subject yourself to an overly stressful situation by pursuing a claim by yourself. Consult a legal professional to handle the heavy lifting of a wrongful death claim while you and your family grieve.