Who Can Bring a Claim After the Death of Loved Ones?

Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy. It’s even more devastating and brutal when someone else’s negligence caused the death. In such cases, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for various damages.

According to a recent study, unintentional injury is one of the leading causes of death in America. These incidents are more common than we may realize, and lots of families across the nation are being affected. Potential claimants must consult with experienced attorneys specializing in wrongful death cases to understand their rights and determine their eligibility to pursue legal action.

Understanding Wrongful Death

Wrongful death lawsuits are legal actions brought by the surviving family members or beneficiaries of a deceased individual against the party or parties believed to be responsible for their death. Bear in mind that not all deaths fall under wrongful deathbut aredependent on the circumstances surrounding the death. Wrongly death lawsuits typically arise when the death is caused by negligence, recklessness, or intentional harm. Some of the common causes include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Car accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents, and
  • Defective products

The purpose of wrongful death lawsuits is to get compensation for the financial and emotional losses suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the death, including medical expenses, lost income, funeral costs, and loss of companionship. Wrongful death cases can be complex and emotionally challenging, often requiring extensive evidence gathering and legal expertise to prove liability and secure fair compensation.

Wrongful Death Claim Eligibility

One common question that usually arises after the death of a loved one is which family member is eligible to file a claim. However, not everyone in the deceased family is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The legal landscape and jurisdiction vary from one state to another, but eligibility typically rests with the immediate family members or beneficiaries of the deceased individual.

Let’s take a closer look at the eligible parties:

Surviving Spouse

The surviving spouse is often granted primary eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. This recognition acknowledges the profound emotional and financial impact of losing a partner. In cases of shared assets, loss of companionship, and potential loss of income, the surviving spouse may seek compensation to mitigate these losses.


Children, including adopted and stepchildren, are commonly considered eligible parties in wrongful death claims. Their inclusion reflects the emotional and financial support they may have received from the deceased. These claims can also account for the loss of parental guidance, nurturing, and potential financial support that the children would have received if the deceased were alive.


In circumstances where the deceased is a minor or financially supported by their parents, the parents are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This recognition acknowledges the profound impact of losing a child, as well as any financial dependence or support provided by the deceased.

Other Dependents

Depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances, other dependents or next of kin may also be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This category can include persons who were financially dependent on the deceased, such as siblings, domestic partners, or grandchildren.

Statute of Limitation

It’s important to note that there is a deadline, known as the statute of limitations, for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limit varies by state and typically ranges from one to three years from the date of the deceased person’s death. It’s necessary to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that the claim is filed within the appropriate time frame.

About the author

Saman Iqbal

Saman is a law student. She enjoys writing about tech, politics and the world in general. She's an avid reader and writes fictional prose in her free time.

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